As an English teacher in Taiwan, you should know
the following facts about hospitals in Taiwan.
Hospitals in Taiwan
Taiwan’s hospitals are on par with most of the developed world. While you may not get the kind of groundbreaking treatment that is available in some Western hospitals, routine needs can be met easily. Taiwan has nearly 11,000 “Western hospitals and clinics” and another over 3,000 “Chinese” clinics.
A local Taiwanese hospital visit may strike you as a bit of an abrasive experience as it can differ considerably from that of Western countries. In Taiwan, the hospital is all about breakneck efficiency – getting you in and out as quickly as possible – without necessarily worrying about your level of comfort.
If you are feeling ill and head out for a routine emergency room visit, make sure you bring your Taiwanese health card, as you will need it to pay. You will first meet a receptionist-type and tell them your problem, then wait a bit to see a doctor. If you can’t or aren’t willing to speak Chinese (as you are sick, obviously), let them know and they will almost definitely be able to conjure up a doctor who speaks English or someone who can translate; many medical specialists in Taiwan have earned their degrees in English-speaking countries.
Next, you will most likely be treated like an internal combustion engine on one of Henry Ford’s original assembly lines, shuttled from place to place and given a battery of tests without anyone communicating with you except to say “sit here”,” go there”, “don’t do that” and so on. You may even be asked to pay before the tests take place, but hey, at least there won’t be any hidden costs later on.
Finally, you will be asked to wait again as the doctor reviews the results of your tests. Most hospitals in Taiwan have in-house pharmacies, so you will be able to pick up any necessary medication before heading home.
Avoiding the hospital in Taiwan
If you’ve traveled a lot, you’re probably a bit wary about what kinds of things in Taiwan are waiting to destroy your body. Luckily, food is relatively clean and there are very rarely any serious viruses spread around. Also, the country’s ability to deal with threatening diseases has gotten quite a bit better after the SARS and Swine Flu scares.
Still, there are things you can do to make sure you remain healthy while in Taiwan. Paying attention to the following steps can help you to stay away from hospitals in Taiwan:
- Stay clean around the kids: If you are going to be teaching kids, they will be the most common source of your illnesses. Make sure you wash your hands and get them to do the same, otherwise you could have an endless cycle of colds.
- Get a real helmet: Whether you drive a scooter to work every day or ride on the back of one once a month, get a serious helmet. You will see perfectly healthy people riding around the city in paper-thin pieces of metal loosely strapped to their heads. Scooter driving is dangerous and if you ride regularly you will almost definitely get in some kind of accident at some point.
- Have mosquito repellent at the ready: Mosquitoes will rule your life if you’re not careful. Make sure you’re always prepared to take them on.
- Keep your house tidy: Apartments in Taiwan are notorious for attracting all kinds of disagreeable critters, such as cockroaches, mice and rats. Make sure to clean and take out the trash often, otherwise you may have some unwelcome visitors.
The #1 tip to stay away from Taiwan’s hospitals
By far the most popular reason why foreigners end-up at the hospital in Taiwan is the road. Taiwanese people do not follow traffic laws, I repeat, TAIWANESE PEOPLE DO NOT FOLLOW TRAFFIC LAWS AND REGULATIONS, so it doesn’t mean you will be safe if you stop at red lights and always ride in the scooter lane.
I have been hit by cars, trucks, and scooters on multiple occasions in Taiwan and have ended up at the hospital quite a few times. Last time I ended-up at the hospital in Taiwan was because I hit a dog at 60km / hour. I broke my right knee cap that time.
Be carefull when you’re on the road if you want to stay away from Taiwan’s hospitals!