US surgeon keen to return

Eye doctor carries out several operations over three days at the Shanghai International Medical Center and is hoping to come back twice a year.

Eye doctors John Holds and Guy Massry have flown back to the United States after completing several operations over three days at the Shanghai International Medical Center.

It was the first time that Holds, a renowned oculoplastic surgeon from St Louis, Missouri, had worked in Shanghai but he quickly adapted to his new environment.

“There are always challenges in new places,” he said. “But it’s been fairly easy. There’s nothing surprising here. The biggest difference is that everyone is Chinese and I can’t talk to them.”

However, the doctors at the center were on hand to help out. Holds and Massry are members of LAFace, a team based in Los Angeles established by medical professors in the US.

 It began to work with SIMC in 2016, and the first operations were conducted in September 2016.

“The cooperation came about because China’s demand for high-end medical services is increasing and SIMC is an open medical platform,” said Kobe Liu, who is in charge of LAFace. “As a high-end hospital, its system is international and similar to ours.”

Kobe said that after the US doctors fly home, local doctors are responsible for the rehabilitation period. Medical fees are similar to those that Chinese doctors at SIMC would charge.

Currently, Shanghai is its only office outside the US, and doctors fly in every month to treat patients.

Raymond Douglas, another LAFace doctor, has visited Shanghai on several occasions. 

In an earlier interview, he said Shanghai was his first choice outside Los Angeles, as he was impressed by Shanghai’s open-minded spirit and great location.

Holds, who sees 6,000 patients a year back in the US, said he hoped to return to Shanghai twice a year.

His only problem was with the physical examination required to obtain a work permit.

“The requirement for medical license is appropriate because you don’t want dangerous doctors,” he said. 

“I think the yearly physical exam is problematic because you can’t get that exam in the US. You have to get it in China and you have to wait days to get the result.

“If I come here twice a year, I should stay to handle that, but if you miss one of the two visits, you have to make an extra trip to China just to get the exam to get the license.”

He suggested foreigners be allowed to have the examination back in their home countries. 

According to Shanghai Health Supervision Agency, there are more than 300 foreign doctors with valid work permits in the city. They include noted IVF specialist Steven Lindheim, and Nobel laureate Barry Marshall.

Chai Xiaojun, SIMC’s deputy director, said it currently had a number of foreign doctors from the US, Germany and Japan. 

It usually took two months for them to get a work permit, and they have to renew it every year.

He said in other Chinese mainland cities, foreign doctors are required to take a knowledge exam for a work permit, but Shanghai doesn’t require it. 

“Shanghai has streamlined procedures and in near future foreign doctors may be granted five-year permits,” he said.

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