China Visa Health Examination

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. The events portrayed is from my personal experience in Nov 2013.

It is Thanksgiving in the United States. I am however by myself in Shanghai, and went to get my health examination done for application for work visa. This is what happened.

Making Online Reservation

I was told to go to the Shanghai International Travel Health Center’s website to make a online reservations for the health check. While people said it may take 20 days to schedule a checkup, the website allowed me to scheduled one in the same week. The website is in both English and Chinese. The English side is reasonably complete.

There are however three strange things about the reservation user interface that you should be aware of:

  1. The date selection drop down lists all dates even though you cannot make reservations for weekends. The programmers probably cannot figure out a way to only put in week dates in the drop down.
  2. After you have selected a date from the drop down, the next screen shows the time and appointments available.  The appointment slots available are labeled  “Rest Person”. They must have used google translate to translate the user interface.
  3. Finally, it is not very obvious but you can keep changing the date in the drop down and see a new date displayed, on the same screen

Photo

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You will need four 2 inch photos. There are usually photo booths at subway stations. The set of 4 photos requires 20 RMB. I didn’t have change and the subway information booth lady was nice enough to make change for me. The photo booth machine can be switched to English, but the instructions are pretty obvious either way. It will take two different pictures of you and let you pick which one you want. The printing only took 18 seconds.

Traveling to the Center

I was going from my office, so I took subway line two all the way to almost the end, the stop before the airport: Song Hong Road (淞虹路 Sōnghóng Lù ). Then I took a taxi to the health center which is only a few minutes away. The best spot to catch a taxi is probably at the little mall on one side of the street. Note that there are a few eating places, a starbucks and even a KFC in the mall. The vendors in there also sell some knockoff local brands of shoes and clothing. 

My appointment was at building 1, which is the first building after you entered the compound.

Process

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Reception: First, head to the reception. Hand over all the forms and documents, (but do not sign it yet), passport and copy and photos. The receptionist speaks very good english. She packaged all my materials together, gave the passport back to me, and give me a numbered ticket to wait in the waiting room. She was nice enough to cut the pictures up for me from the 4x4 photo print from the subway photo booth. At this point I realized that the online reservation is merely a way to space out the arrivals of people. I probably could have gotten there in person first thing in the morning and got an earlier appointment. Luckily I arrived there about 45 minutes ahead of my appointed time, and only waited for about 15 minutes.


The first step is the most interesting - The first room has two staff sitting facing each other. I had to sit by the first staff where she typed in a lot of the information from the documents, then I move one seat down to talk to the second staff to get started. It was a funny moment.

Payment: Then it is off to the first room to make a payment of 640RMB. Not 700 RMB as they say on the website. I am not sure why. Another piece of great technology — the cashier station has a automated voice and text display device that gives instructions and feedback in both English and Mandarin. So you can completely follow what to do without knowing Chinese. The cashier hands me a receipt which is what I will use to pick up the certificates. So do not loose that!

Change: Next room is the changing room. I had to put on shoe covers, took a robe and locker key from the staff. She told me to remove all upper body clothing, and lock my stuff in a locker. That make things much easier as I was carrying my laptop bag and a winter coat with me. I however  need to carry the application form package with me. As I move between stations, the doctor or nurse will check off each step and make annotation as needed.

Examinations: Finally, tests and more tests ! First a simple stethoscope and hand examination, followed by a EKG machine, X-ray and ultra sound. I moved from room to room joined by a narrow corridor. A triage nurse keeps everyone moving in the right direction. She was really helpful and seems to enjoy her work. She took time to make sure little kids were taken care of, for example. The last step for me was drawing blood for blood test. I told the nurse that was the worst part, and she assured me that it will be quick and at least that is the very last thing I had to do!

Once done, I got changed back into street cloths, picking up my personal belongings. Then one last time I go to the room where the cashier is. I went to the delivery/pickup window, handed in my form, and she gave me a date (3 working days later over a weekend) to pick up the certificate. I will need to bring my passport and the receipt she told me.

Observation

Overall I am very impressed with the whole thing. The medical staff seems competent and nice. They are moving so many people through so quickly, while being efficient, they where friendly. The ticketing system, the paper handling etc were also very efficiently done. While I am being moved along effectively a “conveyable belt” to get all these tests done, it was done with enough care that it feels good. The facilities were in good shape. The only thing that I though looked a bit bad was the fish tank in the waiting room! Overall not a bad experience, even if it was on Thanksgiving day.

Pick Up

A few days later, I went back to pick up the certificate. I went after lunch time and it was very quick. There were no lines. I handed them the receipt and show them my original passport as ID. The staff handed me a bound booklet of a health report. And we are done!