I accompanied a colleague and a translator to Jinan Central Hospital. I had braced myself for squalor and chaos since that’s what I found at Shandong Provincial Hospital the one hair-raising time I went there. This colleague had gotten a Chinese friend in Shanghai to look into hospitals here. I’d asked my Chinese friends in Jinan and they all recommend the provincial hospital.
Well, the central hospital has an international department so the receptionist and nurses spoke English. We arrived at 2 pm and were done in 45 minutes with her prescriptions in hand and paid for. Now this wasn’t like a hospital in the U.S. or South Korea, scrubbed and shiny. It was dark and dingy and paint was coming of the walls, but it wasn’t too bad. My colleague had an appointment and we were seen right on time. The doctor spoke some English and the nurse was so friendly that we were at ease. There were parts that were different than what we experience in the US. Privacy wasn’t an issue so I was expected to go in along with the patient and translator. When we moved to the examination in the doctor’s office (rather than the first office) all three of us were supposed to stick together. The doctor examined the patient on a couch in her office rather than on one of those examination tables with white paper. The room didn’t seem as clinical as I expected. But all seems well.
At the provincial hospital when you’re getting examined, throngs are in the room with you. The doctor is seated at a desk and dozens of people are talking or yelling at him as he scribbles requests for tests or prescriptions. I have no idea how patients get the right medicine. Luck I suppose.