One of my first brushes with real life in China was the trip to the Tianjin International Travel Clinic which I posted about here–I guess it’s one way to weed through all the foreigners who want to live here and keep only the ones who can handle Chinese-style medical affairs and ridiculous red tape. My reason for visiting again is that Brian has a new job (subject for another post), and his new employer seems to think we will need the exam again, though I happen to think they will discover they were wrong but will never tell us, of course. The whole thing is just a racket to get money from foreigners, since they have to do this whole medical check at their own doctor in their home country to even be allowed into China in the first place. It costs nearly $100 (577 kuai now, up from 543 last year).
You can see from my first post what all is involved in the thing, but I thought I might include a few tips for foreigners who are coming to Tianjin for the first time and have to go through the ridiculous process.
What to bring:
- A bandaid/plaster in case you don’t stop bleeding easily (and a q-tip won’t suffice after your blood is drawn)
- Tissues for the bathroom
- Your passport of course
- Two-inch high (though not necessarily 2-inch wide – I used photos China itself had taken of me and never used the year before, and they’re 2×1.5) photos of yourself, 3 of them
- As few other things as possible so that you don’t have to find a place to put your things in the bathroom while you’re trying to pee in a cup, because there won’t be any hooks in the stalls
- And ladies, don’t wear a bra if you don’t want to figure out a way to get it off in the x-ray room before your x-ray.
When you arrive, go to the desk on the left and they’ll hand you a form. Fill it out, then bring it back to that desk and they’ll check it all, and when you figure out that they’re asking if you’re pregnant, nursing or lactating, say no (unless you are), and they’ll sign it and stick your photo on and clip the two extras to the top. (Make sure you check “no” for diptheria and cholera and diarrhea and mental confusion and psychosis, even if your recent experiences in China have caused the latter three.)
Walk to window #2 (reception) and hand the form and your passport to her. She’ll enter your information and then hand you a new paper and your passport, and you take those to the right, to window #3 (cashier), where you will pay the tidy sum of (at the moment) 577 yuan.
Take your paper into the examination area (each area is labeled), and just pick the places with the shortest lines. The x-ray room is to the right and has a sliding door and if it’s shut and no one’s waiting, tentatively slide it open and if no one yells at you to shut it, walk in and hand the paper to the man. Put your purse on the metal counter across the room and go to the x-ray area, turn and hug the board marked with a cross in a box (there’s a picture to demonstrate). The ultrasound room is also a bit strange and you have to walk in tentatively if there’s no line and peek around the partition until a doctor yells at you to wait a minute because someone’s there. If they don’t, then you can go in and lay down on the table and lift up your shirt to expose your stomach. Same goes for the ECG room. Oh, and don’t be scared of the “Internal Medicine and Surgery” room. They just check your blood pressure and weight. In the specimen collection room, you first go to the receptionist on the right and then she sends you to the nurse right next to her for the blood drawing after she’s printed out bar codes and given them to that nurse. Your paper says you’ll be given a pee cup, but it seems they don’t do it that way anymore. You go get it yourself at the window to the left of the specimen collection room and take it to do your business in the bathrooms across the hall. When you’ve done your business, you carry the open cup to the nurse, who tells you to put it on the metal tray, takes a dropper of urine out, then tells you to throw the cup in the garbage to the right.
Once every area on your paper is checked off, carry it back to the outer waiting room, to the people who gave it to you in the first place, and they will tear off the bottom and give it to you and tell you to bring that part back with you in two business days in the afternoon at 2 o’clock (Monday if you’re doing this on Friday, and I guess Thursday, too), and pick up your report in the x-ray room. Not sure why it’s there.
Good luck! Maybe you can look like you know what you’re doing!