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Saturday, February 7, 2015

I spent a full day in a Taiwanese hospital

Today is Baby Deborah’s 2nd birthday.  If you haven’t read her story, please take a moment and do that now (

This week I had the most incredible experience in a medical facility that I have ever had in my life – well, “GOOD” experience that is. This is not a typical blog for me, but for you “die hard” readers, as well as people who are frustrated with healthcare in their respective countries, I think you will appreciate my day on Wednesday.

Now that we live in Swaziland we no longer qualify for free healthcare in Canada and we don’t pay for health insurance in the US.  Our options in Swaziland and South Africa are minimal at best and scary at worst.  Taiwan has an excellent reputation for excellent healthcare at VERY affordable prices (relatively speaking).  So, I knew I would have a day off during my week in Taiwan this week and decided to go and get some things checked out.  You know, those medical things that you would go and consult your family doctor about and she/he would likely send you to run some tests.

Depending on the country you are in it might take weeks or months to get all the testing done and the price would range from $0 to many thousands of US dollars. 

On Wednesday my friend Teresa Gibson and I went (at her recommendation), to the Jen-Ai Hospital in Taichung. It’s considered a small regional hospital, and I LOVED IT!  Can you believe I am saying that I loved a hospital experience?  Here is why:

·      We arrived at 10AM.
·      We were greeted by a man named Mark Chan, who was like our personal “Concierge” for the day.  He never left our sides and helped us quickly navigate a new hospital with most signs being in Chinese.
·      Between 10 AM and 12 noon I saw two specialists, had a chest X-ray, EKG, full blood work workup, weight/height/BP, a couple of “procedures” that included the words “just take off your clothes right there” (won’t go any to any details for fear of losing my male readership, but ladies … email me if you want the rest of that story – hilarious).  I passed all tests with the final word from the Doctor being “Go exercise”.   Bahahahahaha.  Good solid advice.
·      Between 12 – 2 PM everyone stops for lunch, and this two-hour break includes a 30-minute nap, that is culturally accepted and encouraged.
·      Teresa and I went out for the most delicious noodles and came back to the hospital in time to get a 20-minute back massage from the blind masseurs (apparently every hospital has an area for massage and it is typically employed by blind people).

·      Between 2PM and 5PM I saw an orthopedic surgeon (having some never-ending back problems), had another X-ray, MRI, more blood work, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plan and some medication to make me more comfortable when necessary.  I left with a CD with my x-rays and MRI.
·      At 5PM my new BFF Mark hailed a taxi and we headed home for dinner.
Other options that I didn't take advantage of (!).
This whole day cost me no more than $600 US.  I never sat and waited more than 4 minutes (they have an outstanding number system) outside of an office, never once felt rushed, always felt that the Doctors were concerned about me and wanted to help AND I got a 20- minute back massage!

Taiwan spends 6% of the total GDP on healthcare.  As a comparative, Canada spends 11.6% of the total GDP and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.2%), than any other nation in 2011.

I am not making a political statement, nor am I trying to stir any pots. I am just saying that I had a GREAT day at the Jen-Ai Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan on Wednesday and would recommend them to any International patient who was looking for affordable and excellent care.

Live from Taiwan … heading home to Swaziland today!


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