Teacher update: Staying at the hospital in China

What’s it like to get sick in China? Hopefully it’s not something you’ll have to navigate, but if you do, it’s helpful to have an idea of what to expect. One of our instructors recently had an experience with a hospital in China, and was kind enough to tell us about his experience. Here is what Fraser told us:

I recently had a dose of what was diagnosed as allergic pnuemonia. Unfortunate.

Fortunately, however, this might help me explain to teachers thinking about making the move to China better about what to expect from the healthcare system here in China.

I’d had slight asthma as a child and with the current backdrop of COVID I had been a little worried when I became short of breath. I called the insurance company – MSH China – and they directed me to a hospital. I went by taxi and there, I met a translator named Cindy. She was very helpful and was able to cross the bridge between myself and the Doctors and Nurses. I have been here in China just over a year and a half now, and although my Chinese is improving somewhat, it was great to have her there to make sure that I was taken to the right place.

A lung doctor (pulmonologist) had a listen to my lungs with a stethoscope. My breathing was quite laboured and she stated she could hear a rattle deep in my chest. I was then taken to a room as an inpatient. Whilst the staff arranged tests, I was given some medicine via a machine from which I breathed in a misty, white vapour. It relaxed my breathing almost straight away – which made me feel much calmer. Then, the tests – first for COVID (negative result the next day), one for lung capacity (breathing in and out on command to a Doctor waving her arms up and down to indicate how I should breath in out or hold my breath) and an MRI. The MRI showed significant inflamation in my lungs – so the Doctors kept me in for eight days.

My room was my own, with a big double bed and about 2 meters on either side of it, a couch and an ensuite. I also had a desk by a window where I sat my computer. I played a few computer games and read a series of books by Bernard Cornwell. I also started the book ‘Catch 22’ which was very funny but hard work. It’s about crazy people flying planes during World War II – I started to feel a little bit of a mental fog trying to keep up with the jumping logic and focus of the characters.

The Doctor visited me once a day and was very patient with all my questions. The nurses too, were very kind and I was brought three meals a day. It had a few variations but the veg was never over cooked and the red cabbage, fish and chicken was often very good indeed.

Being an inpatient, the costs were settled through direct billing of the insurance company. I didn’t even have to fill out any forms. This was great, as nothing makes me sicker than paperwork. That being said, I should also mention that our insurance covers us 80 percent for outpatient costs but that medicines and even the time of a Doctor here in China is far more affordable than I would have imagined before arrival – medicine is quite inexpensive.