Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adventures in Russian Healthcare

I knew from the beginning of my trip that at some point I would have to go to a Russian clinic. It's not that I'm that pessimistic - I just knew that I would have to submit an HIV test to the university during registration and they won't accept it if it's more than 3 months old (which my American one is). SOOO, I finally racked up my courage last week to head down to the State Poliklinika to get the test done. I figured I would need a couple of hours, but I didn't expect it too take as long as it did. I took Adam with me, for language support and because he needed one too. But try as we did, we could not find anyone who was interested in helping us. It can't be that hard - stick a need in, pull some blood out, send it to the lab. But NOOOOOO. We had to go back today to try again. But this time we used our heads - we had Adam's host lady meet us there and help us talk to the angry nurses. She doesn't speak English but she is a lot more friendly about our inability to understand complicated instructions like, "Go from this room, where you'll pay, to this room where you'll get your paper work, to this room where you'll have blood drawn, to this room to drop off said blood." It all worked out in the end - now all I have to do is go back next Wednesday to pick up my "I'm healthy" form.
As I sat in the hallway, cottenball pressed to the inside of my elbow, I couldn't help but be amazed at how old fashioned the poliklinika is. First off all, it appears as if the building has not been renovated in about 60 years. I'm not just talking about paint. The chairs, the slop-jars (old-school bio-hazard containers), the signs - everything looked like it was out of a movie. The best part was the level of technology. Not only were there no computers at all, in the entire building, but they didn't even have calculators. What did they use instead? Drumroll .............. An ABACUS!!! Kind of scary really, when you think about it. If anything happens to me while I'm here, I'm at the mercy of this place, and the really mean nurses.
But as long as they give me the paper I need to make myself legal, it's all good.
Then I can go about tackling the even larger problem of getting a Chinese visa...

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