Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Korea Tip 110: Doctors in Cheonan

Finding a good doctor can be intimidating.  Add to that the stress of trying to communicate in English while living in a foreign country, and some people just choose to tough it out at home.
Also, some hakwon bosses have shady deals with doctors.  Amazingly the doctors always prescribe a coctail of medicine and say that you're still OK to work.  Never mind that you've got it coming out both ends.  But finding an independent point of view can be difficult if you don't know where to start.
Here are some tips for the Cheonanites out there.

No need to be a cowboy (or cowgirl as the case may be).  Make your way to SsangYong Medical to speak to Dr. Ko.  She is kind and speaks English very well.  A word to the wise.  Unless you request something different, in typical Korean fashion, she will prescribe you three days of a rainbowed cocktail of pills in little packets.  However, if you ask, she will: (a) give you a prescription for a week or two (or longer for standard medications, like my allergy stuff), and (b) explain each pill she is prescribing - even to the point of showing you a picture of it on her computer.  SsangYong Medical is near the SsangYong McDonalds (between Korea Nazarene University and Lotte Mart).  From the McDonalds, walk toward Lotte Mart.  Take the stairs after Paris Baguette to the second floor.

Also, if you have a more intense issue and need a specialist, SsangYong Medical is still the place to start.  Just go in and explain your issues to Dr. Ko.  She will write up a referral and help you make your appointment with the specialist.  This is hugely helpful in getting past the secretary's desk - especially because many of the specialists tend to be in large amoeba-like university hospitals.

Put those pliers away, and go see a dentist.  Nero Dentistry (just above SsangYong Medical) is a fully bilingual dentist office.  The head dentist studied in the USA.  The place is kind, clean, and totally legit.  When I took my daughter in for a check up, he looked us both over, and since we didn't need any work, he sent us home for free.  They'll also send you a reminder text for your follow-up appointment.

For women's needs, the easiest place to find is Ehwa Hospital - also in SsangYong Dong.  It's between SsangYong Subway Station and E-Mart.  They have a few OBGYN's who speak English well.  Doing a cold-call might be intimidating, so you might want to have a Korean call first and help you figure out exactly when and where to go.

One more tip, most Korean doctors offices (with the exception of very busy specialists) don't work on an appointment basis.  Everything is just walk in.  Just bring a book, show up, and be prepared to wait anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

Happy Healing.
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