Every foreigner in Korea will relate to the stress and nerves of visiting a Korean hospital with language barriers and miscommunication that could lead to wrong diagnosis and medication, that may cause serious injury.
But at the International Health Center in Myongji Hospital, their goal is to aid foreigners in Korea and also foreigners overseas. In their international homepage, Myongji states:
“This country is at the forefront of globalization in every single aspect of human life, with more than a million people of foreign nationals residing in Korea currently, but when it comes to medical care, simply there are not enough English speaking medical personnel available for you.”
Knowing is one thing, but understanding is a huge step that Myongji overcame. With full knowledge of not enough English-speaking medical staff, Jay Shim who works for the International Health Center has agreed to have an interview with me.
What was the purpose of the International Health Care Center when it first opened?
Myongji Hospital opened in 1978, but we didn’t realize the full potential of having an International Center until 2011, five years ago. Since then, we have gone along way by treating hundreds of foreigners in Korea and overseas. We have established a very good relationship in Russia as well. We signed a contract to launch Korea-Russia joint Myongji International Medical Examination Center, a joint profit medical corporation and open a U-Healthcare Center in Russia and all of this was from 2012 alone.
Who are the most common patients you attend to?
Oh, there’s quite a lot. Russians, Mongolians, Uzbekistanis, Cambodians, Nepalese just to name a few. Not all, but most patients are from third-world countries. They usually request for Cancer treatment and pediatric surgery.
Why do they come to Korea for health care?
Usually their diagnosis in their own countries are not accurately correct because in third-world countries, they sometimes cannot afford the proper equipment or to fund experienced doctors or nurses with the appropriate medication. They come to Korea knowing that this country has one of the best biomedical equipment in the world for advanced analysis.
How did you advertise U-health care center?
In the beginning we usually asked travel agencies to promote ourselves into their medical tour or to advertise in their pamphlets, suggesting if they get sick it’s best to see Myongji Hospital. But recently it has been word-of-mouth. We give a lot of customer services to the patients if they came all the way to Korea for example free pick-up from the airport and driving directly to the Hospital. Throughout the whole process, there is a translator by their side for free so there wouldn’t be any miscommunication and the patient can fully understand what is happening. Because of this, patients feel very satisfied and comforted, agreeing the Myongji hospital offers the best benefits and they encourage their friends to try also.
I heard that this center does a lot of charity for third-world countries. Can you please elaborate?
Yes, that’s right. Chairman Dr. Lee is very interested in charities. Even before the earthquake in Nepal, every year he would set up a medical camp in Nepal because there are so many patients who required surgery from illnesses. The surgeries can be as simple as pediatric surgery. The most serious cases are invited to Korea to be performed properly. Just last month we had a patient who successfully recovered from a tumor in their brain and is now back in their home country in top condition.
What are the future plans for Myongji International Health Care Center?
We wish to establish more U-healthcare Centers around the world, as we did in Russia. By doing so, we can treat patients more efficiently with the proper equipment they need. Also domestically, we are planning to advertise our Center further to foreigners. Our hospital is on the outskirts of Seoul so foreigners would have a hard time finding this place let alone be bothered. The team and I were actually debating whether to send a free bus that would pick up foreign patients around Seoul if they make an appointment. We are excited to improve our healthcare to our future patients.
Last of all, can you give out some information if Foreigners would like to visit Myongji Hospital?
The international Myongji website is http://eng.mjh.or.kr/ and our number is 82-32-810-5029. We are available 24hours and we will provide whatever you need!
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