The Health system of Taiwan is known for its modern, accesible and high quality services, especially for the senior citizens. In many countries, third aged people face many troubles that their local health system can’t conceal. Taiwan is the opposite; I’ve noticed that even some senior citizens used their insurance so much, that the young adults are starting to get worried about their future health system stability.

Taiwan accounts with a large number of clinics in every corner. I live in the rural area, which in developing countries, lacks of enough or good medical services; however, in Taiwan country field area I can easily found at least 8 clinics in less than 4 km.  The clinics have several specialties such as modern medicine, chinese traditional medicine, dentists, dermatologist, etc. In the next sentences, I’ll briefly introduce some of my funny and helpful experiences with them.

I think the funniest one (the other are painful rather than funny) was when I tried to ask for the dermatologist clinic in chinese. I understood “That clinic is just two blocks ahead”. I thought that was too far away since I had been there before, but because I had forgotten how to get there, I decided to follow their direction. When I arrived, it didn’t look like the one I had visited before. It had a  banner that reads “中醫” which means “chinese traditional medicine”.  Well, I decided to give it a try though the medicine was so strong for my stomach that I could not continue taking it. On the way back home, I noticed that the dermatologist clinic that I initially attempted to go was just two “stores” ahead, not two streets ahead!!

 

If I had understood clearly what I was being told, then I would have gone to the other clinic. Language plays a key role for communication, and in Taiwan Health system that is not the exception. Being multilingual is a must for doctors in Taiwan where they have to speak in mandarin, hokkien (taiwanese) or hakka with many patients. When I was hospitalized for more than ten days, I got used to listen to people speaking in hokkien. Even my roommate name was in hokkien: A Pei-Pei!

Many doctors know how to speak in english and can explain your current health condition pretty good. This relieves in you, in the midst of a place where everything is in a language that you don’t understand well enough. Once, I went to a dental clinic in the rural area, and I wanted to have a dental cleaning. So I just went and mix english with Chinese: “”我要牙齒乾淨! 牙齒 clean!! I was not sure of using the word “洗” which is used when you clean something with water. When I said it, the doctor understood…. “Oh! You want a teeth cleaning!” Which I replied “對啊!” Even in rural areas some doctors in the clinics, can speak basic english which will help you in your stay.

However, hospitals in main cities are more fitted to attend emergency cases involving foreigners, because most of the doctors can communicate more fluently in english. Some of them come from foreign countries, like Malaysia. I knew some of them, and their english proficiency was very good. They know what is too be in other country, and will take good care of other foreigners as well. Nonetheless, taiwanese people in hospitals are extremely kind! Once, I had a big emergency and had to be hospitalized for some time in Pingtung Christian Hospital. All taiwanese in the hospital always took care of me. They even sent flowers and a present to me, took care of me, assigned a social worker to look out for my case and to report my health condition to my family in El Salvador. Who would have done all of this for a foreigner? The least that I could do, is thanks God for his great love shown to me through all the awesome personnel from Pingtung Christian Hospital!