Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Good story about Beijing Hospitals

My friend alan de zon, writes:

I made my monthly attempt to hit your blogspot from Beijing, and was amazed to connect immediately. I can only imagine why you’re suddenly accessible, though I couldn’t imagine why you were blocked on the first place.

Liked your piece on suction massage. My wife arrives here Monday, and as she loves regular massage, I was wondering where to send her……As to medicine in China overall, I broke my wrist here two month ago; was trying to be good and exercise, then swim everyday. The local obsession with polished marble didn’t mix well with water, and I slipped by the pool. Language differences set in immediately – I asked for a sling or a splint, or just to see what was in the first aid kit – I was insistently handed a tube of antiseptic cream. I got to my knees, and then to the side of the Jacuzzi, where I fell in, unconscious, but the imminence of drowning woke me up. Made it to my room where I managed to put on some sweats, created a sling out of one of the ties that I brought but never wear, and was taken to Peking Union Medical Centre (“For Foreigners” wing).

For New Yorker’s, think of Coney Island Hospital in the 1970’s, without the gunshot victims in the waiting room. Missing ceiling tiles, cracked floors, bad lighting, and reeking toilets. Also for Americans, the concept of medical privacy was totally unknown. Waiting for my examination, other patients would just pick up and scan my paperwork, try to steal the low numbers from other files, and once inside the examination room, people would just routinely barge in out of turn. After a few bi-weekly visits, I got used to it, and actually enjoyed the show in the waiting room, which was shared with a Pediatric unit, so there were lots of cute babies to play with. As for the doctors, they were just fine, and my treatment was as good as at any US hospital. It was also a lot cheaper (no surprise); each visit consisted of Y200 registration with individual cash payments of Y100/200/300 for casts, x-rays, etc. – pay as you go. The most expensive visit was Y700, which as you know equals $88, and which buys you an aspirin in the US. And, just when I thought the chief osteopath spoke only Chinese, he looked me in the eye and asked me questions in perfect English.

The other cultural difference exposed in this long affair – the attitude towards legal action in this type of situation. Every American (European, Australian) I mentioned this to immediately talked about suing the hotel (the hotel took full responsibility and paid for all expenses and have been extra nice to me ever since); the only Chinese person who asked that question was my Beijing lawyer….

My knuckle-to-elbow cast was finally removed yesterday. It’s a real pleasure to be able to shower without ritually wrapping my arm in a trash liner.

Please keep in the government’s good graces so I can keep up on your parallel universe.

ajd

alan,

Glad to know your arm is better. why didn't you go to one of the western hospitals? At least you got a good story out of this.

My blog wasn't blocked per se -- it was blogspot and it came and went a few times last year so let's keep our fingers crossed. I like being able to see it.