It was just a hand­shake, but what a last­ing im­pres­sion it had

China Daily (USA) - - 19th CPC NATIONAL CONGRESS - By CANG WEI in Nan­jing cang­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn Guo Jun con­trib­uted to this story.

One Fri­day morn­ing in Septem­ber, 73-year-old Wei Dingyu went to the health cen­ter of Shiye, in Zhen­jiang, Jiangsu prov­ince, to check his blood pres­sure and blood sugar. It cost him 1 yuan ($0.15) to reg­is­ter and have the two tests.

Wei lives with his grand­son, since his wife and two sons passed away. He has vari­cose veins and di­a­betes.

But Wei said he does not worry about liv­ing costs, es­pe­cially med­i­cal ex­penses, due to the med­i­cal ser­vices pro­vided by the health cen­ter.

“Be­cause of my low in­come, all my med­i­cal ex­penses at the out­pa­tient clinic are ex­empt. The med­i­cal in­sur­ance also cov­ers 95 per­cent of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion ex­penses.”

In late 2014, Wei had surgery on his vari­cose veins. He paid 600 yuan for the surgery, though it usu­ally cost thou­sands.

That was when he met Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the health cen­ter.

“I was very ner­vous at first be­cause I never had the chance to meet such a high­rank­ing of­fi­cial,” Wei said. “I reached out a hand when we shook hands, but the pres­i­dent reached out both of his hands to hold my hand in­side his hands. He was so ami­able and af­fa­ble.”

Dur­ing his visit to the health cen­ter of Shiye, Xi said that the goal of an over­all welloff so­ci­ety can be re­al­ized only when the health of Chi­nese peo­ple is taken care of.

He re­it­er­ated that peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas should have ac­cess to good med­i­cal re­sources, just as those liv­ing in cities, and that ef­fi­cient and cheap public health and ba­sic med­i­cal ser­vice should be pro­vided to the masses to ef­fec­tively solve med­i­cal prob­lems.

As one of the pi­lot cities of China’s med­i­cal re­form, Zhen­jiang is unit­ing health cen­ters at com­mu­ni­ties with ex­cel­lent down­town hos­pi­tals to ben­e­fit lo­cal peo­ple.

Hu Xiaozhong, di­rec­tor of the Shiye Health Cen­ter, said that many Chi­nese peo­ple pre­fer go­ing to good down­town hos­pi­tals rather than nearby health cen­ters even if they just have a cold.

“To change the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, we have co­op­er­ated with down­town hos­pi­tals and asked their ex­perts to come to ru­ral ar­eas. By now, they have sent 505 doc­tors to con­sult with 7,656 pa­tients.”

“Now, the health cen­ter is our res­i­dents’ first choice when they feel un­com­fort­able,” he said. “It also re­duces the pres­sure that down­town hos­pi­tals bear.”

Hu said the cen­ter has de­vel­oped a re­mote mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, which al­lows lo­cal doc­tors to give timely sug­ges­tions to their pa­tients.

Shiye, an is­land in the Yangtze River that cov­ers 44 square kilo­me­ters, is home to more than 140,000 peo­ple. The is­land, which is known to few out­siders, has gained in­creas­ing at­ten­tion due to its achieve­ment in health­care and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

The town­ship has es­tab­lished elec­tronic health records for 130,000 of its res­i­dents. Doc­tors at the health cen­ter an­swer their ques­tions on­line and visit the pa­tients reg­u­larly.

Wu Yuzhen, a worker with the cen­ter, said that lo­cal peo­ple have started to ex­er­cise and pay more at­ten­tion to their diet.

“We used to tell them re­peat­edly that they need to ex­er­cise more and eat health­ier,” she said. “But our sug­ges­tions are not as per­sua­sive as their elec­tronic med­i­cal records. It’s good to see more peo­ple jog­ging along the river and walk for a while after din­ner.”

I reached out a hand when we shook hands, but the pres­i­dent reached out both of his hands to hold my hand in­side his hands.” Wei Dingyu, 73, a res­i­dent of Shiye, Zhen­jiang, Jiangsu prov­ince

LIU JINHAI / XIN­HUA

A doc­tor treats a pa­tient at Shiye Health Cen­ter in Zhen­jiang, Jiangsu prov­ince, last year.

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