Public and private hospitals like night and day

By Nguyen Hung VT   September 27, 2023 | 06:47 pm PT
Public and private hospitals like night and day
Patients wait for check-ups at a public hospital in HCMC, October 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Every trip to a public Vietnamese hospital is a drag, but it is the complete opposite at most local private hospitals.

It has been over a year since I was saved from a stroke. A stent was placed in me, and I learned that three of my heart valves were regurgitated. My spine and my prostate gland are not in the best shape either. I always have to alternate between private and public hospitals. I only dare to come to public hospitals when my health is not too bad, and someone comes with me. But when I feel tired, or when I have to go to the hospital alone, I always go to a private facility.

I go for a heart check-up once every 28 days, among other check-ups for other diseases every month. If I go for all the diagnoses at a public hospital, I have to wait for hours for a check-up or to buy medicine, even if I have already made an appointment. For an senior like me, it's not all that different from torture, having to move around so much in a crowded environment.

Every time I go on such a trip to a public facility, I feel as if my diseases get worse. The only saving grace is the fact that my medical insurance covers me quite nicely, so it's cheaper to get a diagnosis than at private institutions.

Meanwhile, when I go to a private hospital, the experience is like daylight after the darkness of a public medical center. Even though it's more expensive to get a diagnosis at a private hospital, every step along the way – from receiving patients to the waiting for a check-up – is done smoothly and quickly. I feel like I'm at home. That's an important feeling to have for any patient. There are many skillful doctors and nurses at private hospitals as well, many of them having transitioned from public facilities. Privately employed, they get overtime pay and their incomes are more appropriate for their workloads.

I believe that due to several factors, including policies and target customers, the infrastructure and service quality is always different between a private hospital and a public one. Each place has its own pros and cons, so I will not put them against each other on a scale. Depending on different people in different circumstances, we each will find an option that is best suited for us.

But I do hope that public hospitals can adjust their operations and offer upon-request diagnosis services, to both meet the demands of patients with better finances, and to improve the incomes of staff members.

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