San­l­i­tun center treats for­eign­ers like na­tives, all the way to the bill

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG QINGYUN wangqingyun@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Com­mu­nity health ser­vice cen­ters play a vi­tal role for Chi­nese pa­tients but they also pro­vide ser­vices to ex­pa­tri­ates.

San­l­i­tun, an area of Bei­jing with a large for­eign pop­u­la­tion, is a prime ex­am­ple.

Nes­tled among em­bassies and ex­pa­tri­ate res­i­dences, San­l­i­tun health ser­vice center re­ceives about 120,000 pa­tients an­nu­ally. Of th­ese, more than 400 are ex­pa­tri­ates, in­clud­ing staff mem­bers of em­bassies and com­pa­nies and their fam­i­lies, said Cui Xueli, di­rec­tor of the center.

“We charge them the same price that we charge Chi­nese res­i­dents,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cui, ex­pats go to the center mainly for vac­ci­na­tions for their chil­dren and phys­i­cal check­ups be­fore they start kinder­garten. Some come for treat­ment of mi­nor ail­ments such as colds, fevers or in­flam­ma­tions, as well as den­tal prob­lems.

For­eign­ers are also at­tracted by tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine.

“The num­ber of for­eign­ers who come for our TCM ser­vice has been in­creas­ing grad­u­ally over the years,” Cui said.

Jiao Bin, a doc­tor at the center’s TCM depart­ment, said some for­eign­ers come in groups, and many seek to re­lieve symp­toms of work pres­sure, such as in­som­nia or di­ges­tive prob­lems.

“It is much cheaper in China,” he said.

It costs just 3 yuan (49 US cents) to consult a doc­tor at the center.

Tian Yali, head of the center’s health­care depart­ment, which han­dles chil­dren’s in­oc­u­la­tions and phys­i­cal check­ups, agreed that the low price is a key fac­tor.

Tian said that more than 30 for­eign chil­dren are vac­ci­nated there each year, and more than 50 come for phys­i­cal ex­ams be­fore en­rolling in kinder­garten.

The center pro­vides flu vac­ci­na­tions to stu­dents in schools spon­sored by em­bassies.

Ex­pa­tri­ates’ chil­dren, like those of the Chi­nese res­i­dents, re­ceive free vac­ci­na­tions for hep­ati­tis, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, epi­demic menin­gi­tis and po­lio, and stu­dents in schools spon­sored by em­bassies get flu vac­ci­na­tions for free, as do the Chi­nese stu­dents, she said.

“Also, pri­mary phys­i­cal ex­ams for chil­dren cost no more than 50 yuan.”

How­ever, prob­lems of com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­main a chal­lenge.

“Ex­pa­tri­ates speak all kinds of lan­guages,” said Tian. “Our staff work­ers can speak English to clar­ify ba­sic is­sues, but those who don’t speak English will have to come with a trans­la­tor.”

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