Our first (and second) Korean Hospital Experience

Standard

We must be healthy people because we lived in South Korea for six months before we needed to see a doctor. Even then it was because Clarissa had a birthday and needed her two year check up.

Our insurance has direct billing agreements with four different hospitals in Daegu. Two of them deliver babies. I asked around and decided we should check out Hyosung Hospital. I called the international center to make an appointment and didn’t really know what to expect. They had immediate openings for both Tim and Clarissa’s check ups.

On the morning of the appointments, we took the 564 bus to Jongdong market and then walked a couple of blocks to the hospital. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. Where we are from in Norfolk, the hospitals are huge! But there are only like six of them and they offer a range of services from labor and delivery, surgery, medical, and emergency room services. Here there seems to be a hospital around every corner. I’m not exaggerating. I can see four from my apartment window! But the hospitals are very small and specialize in one or two things. They don’t all have emergency room services.

Hyosung Hospital is two small buildings connected by a walkway on the second floor. I think one building has five floors and the other has seven. We walked into the reception area, found the pediatrician’s office, and tried to check in. We took a number and sat down. When our number came on the screen, we went to the desk and told them Clarissa’s name. They gave us another slip of paper and told us to sit down. At this point no one spoke English so I knew we were in the wrong place.

We then went to the other building to check in to the international center. We filled out some paperwork and then our translator walked us back to the pediatric section. First, we did Clarissa’s height and weight. She had to stand with her back against a wall and stand on two feet that were glued to the floor. Then, she was supposed to stand there while this machine came down to see how tall she was. She wasn’t really cooperative and was an inch or two too short for the machine anyway. (I should have taken a picture but I was too busy trying to keep her in place. I will have to remember next time)

Then, we went to where the babies do height and weight. I had to put her in a metal basket and the machine told us she weighs 10.5 kg (23.148 pounds) and is 81.6 cm (32.125 inches) tall.

Then we had to wait our turn. There were probably twenty Korean children there plus parents. They all stayed together in an area watching a television. I am not sure if the internationals get to cut in line because of the translator or if it is because we have an appointment and the Koreans just walk in, but we only waited about five minutes.

The pediatrician was very nice. She had a Tayo sticker on her name tag, so Clarissa was thrilled. She did all of the usual stuff; checked her ears, throat, and lungs. Then she asked me a few questions through the translator about what I thought about Clarissa’s development. She read Clarissa’s shot record and recommended the second hepatitis A and Japanese encephalitis vaccines and gave Clarissa a lollipop.

The Koreans really are smart about how they do things. Clarissa sucked on her lollipop while they checked her blood pressure and pulse. Then when it was time to get her shots, they had her sit calmly in my lap, still sucking on her lollipop. She didn’t even cry! She started to get a little concerned at the end and they just gave her another lollipop. Problem solved!

Then we went to Tim’s appointment. Again it was only about a five minute wait. The doctor was really nice. I think he understood English but just didn’t speak it well because he would listen to Tim and immediately respond in Korean. It wasn’t that strange to have the conversation translated. It seemed like the doctor was really listening and understanding what Tim said. Then we had to go across the street to the pharmacy and wait about five minutes for the prescription.

We went back today for a follow-up visit. Today we found out that Korean regulations say that you can only get 21 days worth of a medicine at a time. They don’t write you a prescription with refills like in the United States. You have to go back for another appointment. That might get old.

But everyone we met seemed friendly. Random Koreans thought Clarissa was beautiful and would stop and ask me how old she was. In Korea, she is three years old (when you are born you are one, and then everyone adds a year during the lunar new year). But some of the moms would also ask how many months old she is.

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