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Dorgal May 7th, 2005 05:08 PM

English speaking medical help in Valencia - Can you help??
My son arrived in Valencia a week ago and does not speak Spanish. He has been sick since he got there with stomach pain, diarrhea and fever. Does anyone know where he can find a clinic or hosiptal where they speak english---or a dr. who speaks english? I told him to go to the ER but he says he'll wait till Monday and call the embassy. Just wondering if anyone here can help. Thanks.

moldyhotelsaregross May 7th, 2005 05:22 PM

Has he tried going to a neighborhood pharmacy and ask them for help? We were able to find an English speaking doctor that way in France.

moldyhotelsaregross May 7th, 2005 06:38 PM

Also, if he has a tour book for the area, it likely has information on medical care.

Perhaps someone else has one handy tonight.

lincasanova May 7th, 2005 06:41 PM

he needs to see what his insurance covers.. he may be able to go to one of the private hospitals.. where the lines might be smaller.
tell him to go early..

dr. juan hernandez, lives in la canada, american now living in spain. very reliable. does house calls.

if for some reason he cannot get a hold of him and resists going to hospital, he needs to slowly drink gatorade.. no food, replenishing his hydration ASAP.

there will be SOMEONE in ER who can understand the symptoms in basic english.

socialworker May 7th, 2005 07:07 PM

It is very hard for me to imagine a situation where *no one* would speak English. If he just went to the ER, I am quite sure that someone could speak English. He is not the first English- only speaking person to get sick there. I am sorry to speak so bluntly, but he is, after all, in Valencia, not in some remote jungle. If he is truly ill, he cannot be so timid!!

socialworker May 7th, 2005 07:37 PM

HI Dorgal--just to follow up--I realize that my post comes across as a bit of a "scolding" and I want you to know as one mother to another, it is directed at the young man in question, not his worried mother!!

LoveItaly May 7th, 2005 08:12 PM

Dorgal, how worried you must be. As socialworker said, mothers understand your concern.

Is your son staying in a hotel? If so I would call the hotel during their regular busiess hours (say 8:00am Sunday morning, Spain time) and talk to them. They may be able to assist you. They no doubt have someone who speaks English. And they would know the best medical facility for your son to go to. Not to alarm you more but it sounds like your dear son needs medical attention now. Young people don't always realize the importance of medical intervention.

If you cannot obtain someone at the hotel who you can communicate with here is the AT&T International Interpeter Operator. It is a toll free # which is 1-877-261-6608. You do not have to have AT&T telephone service to use this. When you call you tell them you need an English/Spanish speaker interpeter. They will ask for a credit card number. They will then connect you to the proper person. You then give them the phone # in Spain and explain your problem. They will talk to the hotel in Spain. They will converse with you as to what information they have been given. You can then tell them if you need further information etc. I have not used them in several years but when I have it, although expensive, it has been a fantastic service, a real godsend.

If your son is not staying at a hotel, if he is staying in a resident as an exchange student etc. you can do the same thing.

Please post back here and let us know what the outcome is. My very best to you.

NEDSIRELAND May 8th, 2005 01:13 AM

I like the Farmacia idea! It happened to me (after eating much seafood and topping it off with a dessert of cream filled pastries). We asked a cab driver to take us to a Farmacia de Guardia (24-hour): the pharmacist dispensed an over-the-counter remedy for me (in the U.S. it would have been 'Prescription Only') and it did the job within 6-hours.

julia_t May 8th, 2005 04:43 AM

I am sorry your son is unwell, it must be of great concern to you.

I have four children, and for several years since they were fairly small I have taken them to various places in Europe. Without fail, on every visit at least one of us needs medical aid, from broken bones, ear infections, and insect bites to septicaemia (from the insect bites). We have never had much of a problem communicating with pharmacists, doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians (even in a small and very Spanish town about 60 miles from Valencia). Even if the person attending doesn't speak English, there will always be someone else around who does, including maybe another patient!

There have been some good suggestions here, especially the AT&T one which will help relieve your anxiety. But your son does not need to worry about communicating. He should however keep the receipts for all medicines and treatments for insurance purposes. While European pharmacist can supply medicines only available on prescription elsewhere, they are not cheap, so make sure he has enough cash or a credit card to pay for them.

I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he enjoys the rest of his visit. And I shall think of you, until you post again on this thread to let us know the outcome.

nytraveler May 8th, 2005 06:19 AM

Any hotel, B&B or hostel has the name of a physician who will care for ill guests - or organize their hospitalization if necessary.

Alternatively, most phsyicians in europe speak at least some english - also pharmacists - and the idea that there is a hospital anywhere in the world where someone does not speak english is ridiculous.

The ER will no doubt be able to help him. If he refuses to go for care your only option is to call the hotel manager, explain the problem and ask them to call an ambulance to come and get him.

If he has been this ill for a week it is not the "48 hour bug" or even a mild food poisioning (perhaps a parasite of some sort) - and he should get help ASAP - before his body chemistry gets so far out of balance he risks serious problems.

kenderina May 8th, 2005 07:56 AM

Please, tell him go to the ER. It's very , very unlikely that no one speaks English , and if it happens ,they will try to find someone. I live in Castellon, an hour and a half from Valencia and in our hospital there are doctors who speaks english and even have worked in England. Go to the ER of La Fe Hospital, is the biggest one in the city. Hope everything goes well :)

socialworker May 8th, 2005 08:15 AM

HI--I did not want to possibly needlessly alarm you, but now that NYT has brought up the possibility of something serious, I will tell you of my experience. When I was an adolescent visiting Mexico, I developed typhoid fever. Your mentioning your son having a fever, brought that possibility to my mind. Altho that is probably not what he has, he needs to see an MD. Please update us, as many people have shared your worry here...

Dorgal May 8th, 2005 09:01 AM

THANK YOU all for all of your great responses. I am emailing him this thread now and I am going to call him. I finally got a phone number to check up. I will update. Thanks.

Dorgal May 9th, 2005 07:16 PM

Update for my Fodors friends - - -my son went to the ER this morning and found a female dr. who spoke some english and he can speak some spanish. He was able to communicate hwat was wrong and she treated him. He is feeling somewhat better - is on a diet of rice and bananas and is able to eat a tiny but now. The hospital had him fill out a form and they never even charged him! (Just like in the US eh?!)
Hopefully he is on the mend - but still need a test for parasitic infection. He wishes he never drank the water in Madrid!
THNAK SO MUCH for all your help and encouragement - it helped him to feel secure about seeking help.

cruiseluv May 9th, 2005 07:29 PM


I'm glad everything is working out for your son. Language barriers can be very disconcerting. My husband broke a tooth in Salamanca and the dentist needed me to go in with him to translate!

LoveItaly May 9th, 2005 07:40 PM

Oh Dorgal, thank you for posting again about the outcome. I am so happy that you son got medical attention. I can only imagine how relieved you are, but of course know that you will not completely relax until he is completely healed. But he now has medical attention, thank goodness. Hope that you will get a good nights sleep tonight. And best wishes to all of you!

rex May 9th, 2005 08:22 PM

I never feel comfortable commenting on these adult medical questions, adn since this one sems to be headed in the right directon, I will make a few comments (this is based as much on personal experience, as on any familiarity with taking care of any such patients - - and that was decades ago, in the limited capacity of medical student).

That said...

Stomach cramps with diarrhea when traveling is not often "dangerous" but very disabling - - and the commonest cause (enteropathogenic E. coli, aka "turist") can be treated with lightning rapidity. With the correct diagnosis, even one dose of metronidazole (Flagyl) will sharply reduce symptoms in 6-12 hours. Staphylococcal food poisoning can be quite similar, but usually has a lot more vomiting than diarrhea - - and far more likely to "cure itself" in 24-48 hours.

2. The same symptoms with fever has quite a high probability of being something quite a bit more serious. The time to seek help is in the FIRST 24 hours of fever - - not on the fifth or seventh day! That's why I didn't want to comment on Dorgal's son - - a lot of these illness WILL self-resolve (with a "normal" immune system), and thus by the time this was posted... the idea of waiting until Monday was not unreasonable (since it sounds like he was feeling better, aftr a week of illness!). Seems likely he really was on the way to getting better without specific treatment.

3. You don't say if he was traveling alone (but you don't mention any traveling companions either) - - but this (traveling solo) gets a certain amount of attention on this solo. I can think of no worse idea for a solo traveler than to go crawl into a bed, and assume that you will get better, if you have anything worse than a cold. Someone who runs the hostel, inn or hotel where you are staying needs to know.. They WILL get you some medical attention, if they see that you're bedridden (and if you show any signs of getting worse, or non-communicative).

Best wishes,


rex May 9th, 2005 08:36 PM

<<but this (traveling solo) gets a certain amount of attention on this solo>>

whoops! meant to say...

but this (traveling solo) gets a certain amount of attention on this <i><b>forum</b></i>!

Dorgal May 10th, 2005 12:44 AM

Thanks so much Rex.....after years of reading your info (mostly on Italy) I didn't know you had medical knowledge!
My son up and quit his job in CA and decided to move to Spain for at least a year. He found a roommate situation on the internet - traveled to MAdrid for a week where he has one friend and then took the bus to Valencia alone. He moved in with the 2 complete strangers who luckily speak some english. I guess that was my cause for a heavy heart - that he was really all alone there and in bed for a week. Obviously he should have asked for help sooner but he didn't want to intrude on people he didn't know - veen tho they kept offering (stupid pride?). Each day he just thought it would be gone and it wasn't. I got a very encuraging email from him last night that he is setting out today to look for work with his resume. Do you think there is only a small risk that he had (has) a parasite? That sounds really scary to me.I'm urging him to get tested but each day that he feels ok - he will probably not.
Anyway - Thank you all for your concern and encouragement and I apologize for my terrible dyslexic typing!

moldyhotelsaregross May 10th, 2005 03:23 AM

Glad to hear the situation is improving! :)

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