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Visiting a Private Hospital

Luciali72x722Lucia Li -- No one likes hospitals. It’s not always a pleasant environment to work in, and the more I do clinical medicine, the more I want to avoid ever being an in-patient. But, no matter how much I might whine about our public hospitals, I don’t think I could have it any different, as I found out when I went to visit a private hospital.

The first thing I noticed was the car park. It was surrounded by beautifully manicured lawns and untrampled flower beds. And it was free. Which is kind of ironic, given that the cars filling it made the car park look like some sort of car showroom. My battered little Clio looked distinctly out of place.

Then you walk in through the big double doors (more flowers, this time in pots) and are greeted by a shiny wooden reception desk nestled in the corner of a cozy waiting room. Key features include patients who are better dressed and have thicker wallets than their doctors (though I did notice that our consultant wore a tie for this clinic), a (free) coffee machine dispensing drinkable coffee in china (not paper) cups, and carpet (of the tastefully coloured, hotel lobby variety). And the staff are uncharacteristically calm. Probably because they have a working coffee machine and feet stamping isn’t nearly as effective on soft carpets.

And then there’s the consultation rooms themselves. They had curtains! Which not only looked like they had been brought in the last 5 years as opposed to the last 50, they also matched the cover on the examination couch, which matched the chairs. I half expected the nurses to have uniforms that matched the curtains as well. Most exciting was the discovery of an en suite off the consultation room. Not just a pokey toilet, but an actual bathroom, complete with shower and bath. The excitement really was a bit too much…

This visit certainly opened my eyes to what "the other side" was like. Now, I’m not going to debate the relative ethics of private health care. No doubt one day when I qualify, I will do my fair share of private work and will enjoy the rather cushy surroundings and financial benefits. More-hotel-than-hospital is probably what they were going for, and I think I’d love being a patient there. But, it was all just a bit too surreal for me. Call me old-fashioned (or masochistic), hospitals aren’t hospitals unless they have certain features. The walls a faint generic shade of pea-green, squeaky lino floors and that reassuringly distinctive whiff of scented cleaning products not quite masking the delicate undertone of melaena… now that’s something I understand!

November 17, 2008 in Lucia Li | Permalink


Amazing isn't it? I've visited a private hospital too, and found it to be like that Grey's Anatomy episode where the interns accidentally wound up in Dermatology and realised it was heaven (okay maybe it's not really like that in Derm, but hey it's a huge medical in-joke all the same).

Also, great to see you blogging here too - always nice to have a Cambridge rep on the board, if only to show how ridiculously otherworldly it is compared to normal med schools :)

Posted by: The Angry Medic | Nov 18, 2008 10:03:46 AM

wow, i cant' believe it! and i thought i was the only one that got that feeling when i visited a private hospital. i was there a couple of days ago and i couldn't help notice the striking difference it had from the teaching hospitals we attend. it was much more clean, more organized and most important of all, it was barging with angry patients complaining about when it would finally be their turn to see the doctor:)).

medical student

Posted by: SAS | Nov 19, 2008 12:48:37 PM

Here in pakistan we have private and public hospitals.Public hopitals are big one or two storeyed buildings with high roofs,old walls missing paint,inadequately cleaned rest rooms,no central heating or cooling,limited disposal services for hospital waste,bad smells probably from hospital disinfectants and poor ventilation.Majority of patients are poor pateints who cannot afford treatment on their own.
On the other hand we have Public hospitals.Though they show resemblance to public ones,they have some improvemnts like good painted walls,hygienic wards and rest rooms,good hospital waste management,air conditioners and heaters,foreign qualified consultants,decorated rooms for consultants and patients
And i havent seen any hospital matching the one in grey's anatomy.


Posted by: Burhan | Nov 26, 2008 1:16:25 PM

Well guess what, here in Mexico we too have public AND private hospitals. And yes, they differ in all the fields mentioned above, but i'd like to add another thing: I don't think that you have the same chance to learn in a private hospital than in a public one. Let's face it, if you were paying an enormous amount of money to have Dr. Bigshot treat you, would you let a med student practice with you?

Just, a thought, but at least that's the way private hospitals are back here.

Posted by: José Telich | Nov 26, 2008 4:40:05 PM

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