In order to be able to be admitted to Yonsei University SK Global House (dorms) I was required to present the results of medic test to probe I’m no disease carrier. This is the story behind my visit to one of the public health community centers in Seoul.
The dorm contact told me it would be wise and cost effective to go to a public hospital to take my test. Because of this I asked one of my friends to locate one for me, since even though I would be able to determine where I could find one, I would not be able to determine if the required test (X-ray looking for tuberculosis) was taken there. In any case my friend was able to pinpiont the location of one of them for me.
Knowing where it was located I went there walking, probably about 25 minutes from the multihouse I’m staying. When I was close to it there where many building, I was confident I would be able to locate it thinking that I would find an ambulance or patients around, however this was not the case. The problem was easily solved since I was able to pinpoint the cross that most hospital show on their facade.
Once I was inside I asked the clerk (a nice korean girl) in the information booth if she knew English. The answer was no. I knew this could happen so prior to this I had asked another friend to translate some questions for me to Korean and printed them. So I gave her my cheat sheet and she smiled. Once she knew what I was there for she answer all my printed questions… Yes in English 🙂 as most of the people I’ve found she knew some English but was afraid of telling me. She guided me into an office specially set for tuberculosis prevention.
Once inside this area there where two woman neither of them knew english either. So I gave them my questions to one of them. She immediately start typing until she needed some information. I could understand she needed either a social security number or a alien registration number, I didn’t had any of them so I told her that information was not available. She then started to try to find out what to do calling several persons over the phone without success. She even called a doctor but no luck. After sometime she finally asked me for the university phone which I didn’t had either. I gave her my passport and suggested her to use passport number instead of registration number. She finally just ended up filling the form. After this she told me to go to second floor, I asked her to write which area in korean so I could serach for the korean character on the signs.
I walked up-stairs and into the radiology department. Again another woman at the counter this time communication was even more difficult as she didn’t knew a word of english. She calls the radiologist and he just tells me “DOWN” I tell him that I already been there, then he starts talkign me in korean and repeating the same phrases about 3 times. I try to make him wirte what he wants, he finally ended up telling the woman to take me downstairs.
We go down, and we go to hospital administration, the radiology woman does all the korean talking for me and we go again to the tuberculosis area, there they explain to her that its ok for me to take the test :).
So we go up again. I change my clothes (just the upper part 😀 no need to be nude this time!) I wait for 4 minutes since a woman was taking her test, the doctor calls me and I go into the room with the X-ray machine. I’m told to “hug” the machine and take a deep breath. The whole operation was less than 4 minutes long. I go bacl to the changing room and dress.
Once again in the radiology reception I ask for my report but I’m just told to go home, I assumed that I had to wait for one day.
Today I went there again, this time directly to the tuberculosis area and ask the woman for my report, she could’nt speak english but since I think I’m the only foreign that has gone there for sometime and she saw me the previous day, she logs into her partner computer and prints out my report. I try to ask her if I was healthy but language became barrier. The report was in korean so I couldn’t determine outcome at that moment.
The whole experience was good, I got my report free of charge, hospital was nice and people helped me even when they couldn’t speak to me 🙂