Some points on hospital care in Taiwan:
1) Since helping a foreigner can garner you a lot of face (especially if you jabber away in unrecognisable English), I sometimes find myself being walked all over the hospital by very friendly, if somewhat bewildered, hospital volunteer staff. They really (usually) go out of their way to help you. Great job!
2) Being a foreigner doesn’t always open doors or shorten the queue for you… I’ve had some nasty experiences at Cathay, Hsinchu General, McKay (all in Hsinchu) and in Chiayi General where I was completely ignored by the front desk staff and the doctors were more concerned with grandstanding for the nurses and the other 11 people who crowded into the doctor’s room with me!
3) I also had to fight like a maniac in Ton Yuan hospital in Jhubei to retain a smidgen of respect! After suffering a heart attack I was admitted to ICU (an overcrowded demoralising place with neon lighting 24/7 and no privacy). I found myself surrounded by a gaggle of nurses (all 9 of them) who couldn’t wait to tear my clothes off so that they could compare my big bird to that of a Taiwanese one! ^&%#%^@# I slapped one nurse on the hands, ripped off the electrodes and shouted (rather dramatically) that I’d rather die at home than suffer their brand of professionalism… The supervisor and my wife had quite a charming discussion in English and Chinese, and I ended up in the “isolation room” with only one nurse allowed at a time. A few hours later I suffered another heart attack, but the doctor was stunning! I had angioplasty shortly thereafter, and a stent put in. Three days later I was sent to my private room with my own bathroom. My wife bought me peanutbutter sandwiches at 7/11 since the hospital food was way gross, and because she’s not a real cook. The post operative care was good, and the doc and I have a great relationship.
Cost: NT$25 000
4) At the moment I’m recovering from a back operation which I had done at Weigong Academic Hospital in Toufen (Hsinchu County?). Doctor Wang operated. I was blown out of my socks by the comprehensive pre- and post-operative care, information and options regarding the surgery - in English! I hate hospitals, but I would go back there in a jiffy.
Just watch out for the kleptomaniacal room cleaner with the hoarse cough. She used my private bathroom, and helped herself to my candy. She fled rather ungraciously when I pointed my finger at her and hollered “Shautou”, thief! Once over the shock, I had a good laugh. Cost: NT$21 000
I would rather get sick here than in ZAR, USA, CAN, or Mexico!