Friday, March 28, 2014

Another China Healthcare Adventure

A friend here asked me to go with her to the hospital to help translate for her.  She had a spot on her hand that she worried might be pre-cancerous.  She met with the best doctor in the dermatology department who told her that it was nothing to worry about.  But she had investigated the subject online, and was convinced that the doctor didn't know what she was talking about.  (As you can tell, I believe the doctor knew what she was talking about)  So the doctor turned to her assistant and said in Chinese, "Well, who knows how much she has read on the internet, so because she is worried, we can just take it off."  She told us that she gets off work at 5:00.  But that day, it was actually about 5:30 when we met with her, so we got the impression that she would wait for us if we came late.

My friend doesn't get off work until 3:45, and it takes at least an hour to get to the hospital.  On Fridays traffic is worse, so it actually took us a little longer to get there.  We decided to call the doctor and tell her we were on our way.

So here is what I think happened.  My Chinese isn't perfect, but I think on the phone she thought I was Chinese.  She was VERY curt with me, and yelled and told me that the hospital closes at 5:00, and that if we came, there would be no one there to help us.  Suddenly the phone went dead.  So I called back and said, "I think we got disconnected, but I wanted to ask if you will still be there if we come a little late."  She again was very ornery with me and told me that they close at 5:00.  Then the phone was disconnected.  I said, "Uh, she just hung up on me."  My friend has a very pushy personality, so she called her back.  This time, the doctor talked to me a little longer, but chewed me out.  She said, "I told your friend she didn't need to worry about this skin problem, but she insisted to have it taken off anyway.  We close at 5:00, and if you come later, no one will be here."  I asked her what she suggested, and she said that we should come next week during office hours.  I had already explained to her before that my friend works in the day.  Anyway, so I said goodbye and hung up.  But my pushy friend called her back and started ranting in English about how we had gotten the impression that she would wait for us.  I know that the doctor probably only really understood probably 5% of what she said to her.  I was really embarassed that she had called the doctor back.  Suddenly she handed the phone to me and said, "Tell her..."  I stopped her and said, "I"m not talking to her again."  She was surprised and asked my husband, who was driving, if he would talk to her.  He refused too.  She handed the phone to me again, so I just hung it up.

She had been referred by a doctor that speaks English, and works in a special "VIP" part of the hospital that treats foreigners.  She called him up and told him the doctor was refusing to wait for us.  He kept answering her and telling her what she should have done.  She kept arguing with him, and finally hung up when another call came through.  It was her doctor calling back.  I answered and she said, "Where are you?"  So after all her yelling at me, she was still waiting for us!

Actually, honestly I think she thought I was just some Chinese person (with bad chinese) so was ornery with me.  Then when she realized I was the American she had met, she called back and was nicer.  So there you have it America, this is what a non-profit driven healthcare will give you.  If the doctor doesn't get paid according to the number of clients they have, but is just paid by the number of hours spent, they don't care about you.  They keep their job whether you like them or not.  They keep their job whether they treat you disrespectfully or not.

I could write a whole other post about how I had to go up and down 4 flights of stairs to get my friend registered and get her bill paid.  At one point, I had to go all the way up 4 flights to give her a paper to fill out, and to get her passport.  I went all the way back downstairs only to notice she had forgotten to sign on one line.   I didn't say a word, I just asked the nurse for a pen, and when she was busy doing something else, I signed it for my friend.  I figured they probably couldn't tell it wasn't her signature.  It was worth the transgression to not have to walk back up 4 flights of stairs.

I should mention that the doctor was right.  Everyone in the hospital, except the emergency room on the first floor, left at 5:00.  The lights turned off.  The escalator turned off.  That's why I had to walk the 4 flights.  So when I was walking up and down, I was doing it in the partial darkness.  The doctor worked with us until about 6:30....1 1/2 hours after her quitting time.  So I don't blame her for not wanting to stay, but I do still blame her for being rude about it.

I still have to go back this week to pick up the biopsy results for my friends.  The lab closes at 5:00 too, and they won't wait.  My friend doesn't get off work in time, so they said I could pick it up for her.  I'll probably ride the bus this time, so this is going to be another really long day.  And it's sad to think that this is how health care is for ALL Chinese.


Rummuser said...

Sad. For the poor, the problems are the same everywhere.

Looney said...

On a few occasions I have had people on the other end of the line thinking I was from some distant minority group. Forcing a billion people to speak the same dialect hasn't been entirely successful.

Delirious said...

Rummy, this was not a hospital for the poor. THis is the best hospital in the city, and this is how the healthcare is in every hospital in China. Even worse in some places.

Lois Draper said...

Again we had a good laugh at your expense. I can picture perfectly exactly what happened. There are no words to say.