The first time I walked by the front entrance of this hospital, there was a disturbance or dispute of some sort. A large crowd gathered on the side walk. Securities (I assumed) were talking to the crowd. The Hospital itself is non descriptive, plain, white washed, with open windows etc.
The crowd were not happy, for the verbal exchanges were loud, no chest pounding, no fists thrown, just heated words. I walked by fast, taking the age old advice from our mother when we were kids – If you feel you see trouble, move on. And I did.
The hospital was called “Number Two Hospital for Women and Children”. (By the way, there are no private doctor’s offices in this city.)
I don’t know what number Two means. Size wise or the second one built in the city? Anyways, the second time I walked by with a friend, we walked in.
Since I have been to a few hospitals in my life time, touch wood, all for minor stuff, or just visiting. Curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to see what is going on. How did they operate a hospital? 🙂
There is a large lobby on the ground floor after you walked in. Throngs of people walked through the open door all the time. To the left was the registration windows, I was told every inhabitant in the city has a health record book that you bring with you. You pay a two dollars registration fee, tell the reception what you were in for or what your child was in for. She gave you a slip ith a number with the department you were suppose to go onit.
There are three upper floors of various departmnets for consultations on the main wing facing the street.
You then got a number for the particular department that you wanted. Say if your little boy could not pee, or felt itchy when peeing, or the pee smelt bad. You wanted a urine test for the child.
You took this number tag to the lab reception, in this case, if the lab department was on the second floor, you go to the lab window, the lady behind the counter window collects yet another fee (lab fee), then give you a sample bottle, you would have to collect a pee sample from your little prince right there and then – in the public bath room area. This in my view might compromise the integrity of the sample collected.
If your little man is cooperative and produced the needed sample in a reasonable time, you will have to go back to the lab counter, hand in the bottle, and wait. Within a time frame, not including the hospital worker’s lunch and coffee time, you or the parents have to wait. And wait you would!
You got to give this hospital credit for embracing technology, for in front of each department there is a good size LCD panel that showed name and number of each patient waiting in line – at that moment of that particular day – not for yesterday, not for tomorrow, but right at that moment whose turn it was to see the attending physician.
Physicians’ offices are large enough to get in a desk, the doctor’s chair opposite the patient’s chair across the desk. Funny thing was, the one office I walked by had at least four people in it, hovering over the doctor. I was not sure if they were from the same family, by the look of it, they weren’t. They were just patients in line, spilled into the office from the crowded waiting area outside.
Looking at the corridors, and all the little alcoves with rows and rows of chairs, they were filled with pregnant women and sick kids. Each floor is filled to capacity, and it is a regular weekday.
So going back to the kid who needed an urine sample, if he is cooperative, the sample will be collected right there by the lab people, and you wait.
Within a reasonable amount of time, your name would show up on the LCD panel. You then will be given a print out, on it would be the name of the department/ attending doctor that your child need to see. You placed this print out under a scanner, the scanner saps it, then you are within the system to continue your hospital visit.
I couldn’t remember whether you need to pay again at this stage, pretty sure you have to pay again before getting to the doctor’s office for consultation, again you wait.
A funny story was relayed to me as follows: A father brought his little girl for an urine checkup, because the lass complained of a burning sensation when peeing. After registered, got the bottle from the lab, by then the little girl didn’t have any thing to pee. Daddy waited a while, no pee, and the poor man had to go back to work. And he did. The little girl went home to mum with the bottle. Half a day wasted.
By four o’clock, a excited mother called her husband,” your daughter had a sample, would you please come home right away, take the bottle, and the girl, head for the hospital before they call it a day!”
Father and daughter rushed back to the hospital, handed in the sample. Waited for the result, by the time he had the result, waited in line patiently for the doctor’s consultation. Guess what, finally it came to his turn on the LCD board, it was 11pm in the evening, and it was closing time for consultation.
Poor dad had to go back next morning, and he won’t be the first one in line just because the door closed on him the previous night. He had to register, get in line once again. First come, first serve, users pay, and you pay first!
I spoke with people in their thirties and forties who are married with children, they are very aware of the dilemma they would face in ten to twenty years when their parents/in laws would be seniors some time down the road.
The social security net that their parents enjoyed in their productive years are no more. The State had cut back a lot of benefits, and that included medical.
To give you an example, a heart patient with two little balloons inserted in her main arteries cost RMB forty thousand dollars, the operation saved her life, but it almost wiped out her life long savings, because she was just a working gal in her productive years.
One up beat note about the hospital I just mentioned, the local health authority is building a much bigger addition behind the existing one. And I hope it would ease the stresses for the patients and hospital staff alike. Amen!