So, yesterday, I took my first trip to a Beijing public hospital. I went to sleep with a slightly sore throat and woke up with it swollen and all sorts of sinus pressure. My savior and good friend Phoebe (this sweet Chinese girl helps me out during most major needs in Beijing that require a serious level of Chinese) took me to a hospital that she knew would be good.
1. I have never seen so many people in a hospital at one time
2. They were exceedingly organized and efficient
3. It was incredibly high-tech, minimizing room for human flaw and keeping the lines moving.
The first room, a giant open floor was divided in half. On the right, was a total of 10 operating receptionist windows (running at full this hospital is equipped for about 20 receptionist windows). Each line was about 30 people deep, if not more. We stood in line for at most, 30 minutes. At the receptionist desk we told her what kind of doctor I needed to see, and paid the charges for the appointment there. We also received a number for the afternoon line (7, woo!). I also received a digital card that was to be my access to the rest of the hospital and my digital check in at each point.
(Behold! My access pass to health care!)
Three floors up was the “respiratory” and seeming general medical ailment check in. Card and information were checked in with a receptionist, and then we waited in the large, well lit room.
A automated machine called up the next patient whenever a doctor indicated that their room was empty and ready for the next patient. On a machine made for calling out Chinese names, it simply just spelled mine out. “C - A - S - S - I - E” in rapid fire and a high pitched voice.
The doctor didn’t speak to me while asking about my symptoms, instead Phoebe was our translator. She wrote down details in a little notebook that I had been given, and then sent me off for a blood test. Part of me was unnerved by a blood test for a seemingly mundane medical need (remember I’m in this massive bee hive for a sore throat), and then the other half was annoyed that I had to extend my stay there even longer. I just wanted out with my medication.
After thinking about the massive number of patients that probably move through this hospital, and the amount of vague complaints they probably get, a blood test seems like the safest way to narrow down what people need.
Scanned my little digital pass card at the door, which “put me in line” and then the automated voice called me up when the next technician was ready. Blood test was quick and simple. Caused me to wait in the hospital for another hour as they processed results. Of all the information on it, the only thing I recognized was Mono (good to know I’m Mono-free…). But we took my test results back to the first doctor.
And then, my doctor who had previously spoken ZERO words to me, turns and says clear as day:
"You have a bacterial infection."
And then we talk about her trip to Michigan. Go figure.
I was prescribed both antibiotics and traditional Chinese medication (my boyfriend has since then, somewhat rightfully, pointed out the financial scam of this…) and sent down to the ground floor to pick it up. Once again, I scanned my card, which put me “in line” and I waited for a pharmacist to have my medication ready.
(And this, is my traditional Chinese medicine. It tastes like old molasses.)
All in all, it was a vast, technologically advanced facility moving through thousands of people a day. I am impressed, and lucky to be able to go to one of the best hospitals in the city.