Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peking Union Medical College Hospital - International Medical Services

Just thought I should post a little something about my experiences at this hospital. 

For those living in Beijing or China at large who are looking for good medical care, I have had mixed results thus far.

First off - no one really speaks English at this hospital.  I was able to communicate with the doctors in Chinese though.  Glad all those years of studying paid off, or did they?

The first time I went in for a check up, I had a very professional patient doctor (very rare in China).  He was an endocrinologist who was obviously aware of the of recent research on Hashimoto's disease.  He also took a look at my liver function which has been problematic over the past few months.

He asked me to take some medicine, diet and exercise, and come back in a month to see him. 

When I came back however, he was gone and his replacement refused to give me any blood tests.  She insisted I go see a "digestion internal medicine doctor." She also recommended that I see a urologist and a nerve specialist. I traveled a long way to get to this hospital and now it looks like I will have to wait a week to see a doctor. 

You can make reservations by phone - though the line is always busy and they hang up on you for no reason. 

The problem is that you can't get immediate (or same-day) medical care at this hospital unless you are having an emergency.

Chinese hospitals run on a "take a number" system.  This means you have to phone in advance (at this hospital) to get a number.  Then you go in with your hospital card (which you get on your first visit).  The computer system will then allow you to pick up your number and pay the fee for seeing the doctor (currently, 200 RMB - about $30 US). 

However, this "international" department isn't international any more.  Anyone can go to this hospital and there are hundreds of thousands of people all over China desperate for decent medical care - which is basically non-existent in China.  Currently there is a one week delay if you want to see a doctor - So if you are far away and want to make an appointment - call in advance!  Otherwise you will have to hang around Beijing for a long time waiting to see a doctor.  (I suppose this may be similar to the situation in Western hospitals.  However, in China, you can usually see a doctor the same day if you go into one of the many hospitals in every city.  Service is unfortunately very substandard.

I suspect that in the future this problem will become more severe.  The "international medical services" department recently moved and it appears to be much more crowded now.  I wouldn't be surprised if in the future there are waiting times of a month or more. 

Currently, the only thing slowing down registration for this hospital's services is that the prices are a bit higher the neighboring hospital which is jammed like a massive Chinese train station!!!

So the bottom line is that this "international" hospital is, in fact, not international in any way, aside from it's name and higher prices. 

I suppose, if you are working at an embassy and you have an emergency, they may give you special treatment and allow you to get a number more quickly... Everyone else seems to be out of luck. 

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