Public hospitals go international to meet a growing demand

Cai Wenjun
Chinese-American couple solve a disagreement when they choose a medical clinic at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital to guide them through their first pregnancy.
Cai Wenjun

Shot by Jiang Xiaowei, Dong Jun. Edited by Jiang Xiaowei. Reported by Cai Wenjun. Subtitles by Cai Wenjun.

For 25-year-old Alicia Ann Moore, the top criteria to choose a hospital in Shanghai is the medical staff's language ability and then details such as environment and service. So her first choice when she became pregnant was an international hospital.

However, her Chinese husband's top concern is the hospital's capabilities and doctors' skills. He prefers a Chinese public hospital.

After an argument, they finally agreed on the international medical clinic at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital.

Public hospitals go international to meet a growing demand
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Alicia Ann Moore from the US and her husband consult with Dr Duan Tao at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital on her pregnancy and delivery plan.

"When my husband suggested I should choose a public hospital to deliver the baby, I visited various hospitals and decided to have prenatal checks and give birth here. Doctors and nurses here can speak fluent English. It is very important for me, as I want to communicate directly with doctors instead of my husband's translation," said Moore, who is due to welcome her first child in July.

"Then the environment, doctors' ability and medical process also influence my prenatal checks, so my doctor gives specific guidance and instruction to help me."

Her husband, Zhu Weicheng, said he had been insisting on a leading public hospital from the very beginning.

"Public hospitals have much more experience in complicated cases," he said. "Previously, public hospitals were much more crowded and staff's foreign language ability was not as good as international hospitals. But the international clinic has solved the problem."

Dr Duan Tao, a leading expert with the Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital's obstetrics department, said the rise in demand from patients was pushing the development and renovation of public hospitals.

"The coverage of commercial insurance, language and medical skills and services are all important issues for expats and Chinese with higher demand. Public hospitals are launching VIP services or international departments to serve these patients. It is also a necessary measure as Shanghai wants to build itself into a medical center in Asia and destination for international medical tourism," he said.

To meet international standards, public hospitals are renovating both hardware and software.

The First Maternity was recently equipped with an LDRP room, meaning labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum. In the room, pregnant women can give birth, as the bed can become a delivery bed as is the practice in the West.

Such a room can reduce a pregnant woman's stress and lead to a better delivery experience, as she needn't to be transported to a special delivery room and separated from her family.

"Keeping in line with international practices is a comprehensive and high demand. Local public hospitals are learning to improve the workflow and change traditional concepts. We are perfecting a detailed and human-centered service, focusing on privacy protection and individualized service," said Li Xiaocui, vice president of the hospital.

Public hospitals go international to meet a growing demand
Dong Jun / SHINE

A nurse turns an ordinary bed into a delivery bed in the LDRP room.

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