Published: January 27th 2010January 27th 2010
What ails you today?
I was hoping that strong, green, pungent smell (I am sure it was Kali weed) would cure my roommate's deadly sounding cough. No thanks, she said. She was not having it. This she decided as we walked into the early morning crowd at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital (TCM). Not exactly the scene you would imagine at a private western hospital or probably a hospital in China where Western medicine is practiced. It was clean enough, but not anywhere near sparkling. Well, imagine the number of people coming and going and you know they could hardly do better. Obviously, it is very well used. As she walked toward us, the petite, lively and confident director seemed at home with doctors and patients. She gladly showed us around the out-patient ward as she spoke kindly to each of the patients who did not mind our looking at their "cupping" or "acupuncture needles" or smoking "aijiu" (I still think it's Kali weed). Most of the hospital is concerned with Internal Medicine, and most of the patients are more comfortable with Chinese medicine, which has a holistic approach--treating the real cause of the illness rather than giving relief to the symptoms. This means though
Here are some alternatives...
that the process of diagnosis and treatment is much longer. Patients in distress often opt for radical intervention at the western medicine hospitals and continue their treatment or healing care at the TCM hospital. Health insurance adequately covers both. We visited the pharmacy, which is a large room with dark wood drawers, a high counter and large bags like potato sacks all filled with 500+ herbs, bugs, insect shells, reptiles--just anything that would offer relief to the many aches and pains of the patients waiting outside. Each patient receives a combination unique to their physical conditions, existing ailments and current needs--like custom made medicine--prescribed by the doctor. This concoction is steeped to make tea for use twice a day. In this 500-bed facility with about 300 physicians and many student doctors, everyone was mellow (I told you it was Kali weed). They certainly win on paying attention to the patients.
There are more photos below