It is that time of the year again when I need to roll up my sleeves and look away as someone starts removing vials and vials of blood. Ugh! Poked and prodded, tested and squeezed. The dreaded annual physical.
Thinking myself really clever when I hit a milestone birthday 10 years ago, I paid about $3,500 CAN for a full on physical. It was a full day and about 5 follow up appointments for everything that was included – but I figured it was worth having a substantial baseline. Besides, the 20-minute appointment with my regular GP did not include everything I wanted.
Fast forward a decade or so – and it was time for another baseline. While I was diligent in getting my annual checkup, I thought once again that a new decade deserved a new baseline. In a country known for medical tourism (they are working on their branding), I figured why not do it in my new home in Penang?
A bit of research which included a hilarious blog by Cimeron Morrissey (a pal I trust here), convinced me to select one of the local hospitals. I had been to this hospital before to support a number of folks coming over for plastic surgery and found the staff to be excellent and the facilities terrific. While not as “posh” looking as some of the other places, well, the pricing reflects that this place is a not for profit hospital.
I jumped online and picked the mid-range package. It included:
- Medical History
- BMI & Body Fat Analysis
- Vision test
- Blood and urine analysis that included 66 tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Chest X-Ray
- Upper Abdomen Ultrasound
- Physical exam
- Consult for Report Review
- Personalized Medical report (including copies of x rays on CD)
- A snack
I added a mammogram and DEXA bone scan. TOTAL COST: Less than $200 CAN
You read that right – $200! What the what?!?!?
For a few extra dollars, one could add cancer marker tests and lifestyle advice by a dietician as well. I decided my add-ons were enough for now – and if I wanted to I could upsize my fries later.
I managed to easily book, and within a day had a confirmation of my appointment via email with clear instructions. Now the hospital I went to is pretty local and can be daunting for folks coming from the West. But since I had lots of experience there – I knew where to go, who to see, and what was needed. Shaved about 3 minutes of my total time.
Hubby and I decided to arrive right at 7:30 am to be sure we were there when the place opened. Riiiiight. There were about 50 people already there and settled in. However, once we nabbed our number ticket, someone took us in about 10 minutes. Seems like the clinic does a whole bunch of stuff besides wellness checks. We were checked in, given a snack to carry around, paid for the services we needed and asked to wait.
We pulled out our digital devices and prepared to settle in. No chance. All of a sudden two nurses pounced on us – and we begin the maze of tests.
Through the entire thing, we are being shepherded from one “station” to the next. With clear instructions all the way. Blood and urine were taken then I was told: “please miss you can eat your snack now.” As my hand reaches into the bag and I manage half a granola bar before I am taken to a scale, measured, eye tested etc., then on to the ECG.
Once those tests are completed, someone new pops in and escorts us to the imaging lab. I barely had time to sit down! In two hours all tests were completed. However, the one drawback was that we had to wait now until 2 pm when all the test results came back. That’s right – ON THE SAME DAY.
We have a friend who is a doctor at the hospital so we went to his clinic for a visit and a coffee. While there, hubby decides he needs another procedure and asked for a specialist referral. All of a sudden we are in the specialist’s clinic and lo and behold his procedure is scheduled for the next day. This would normally take 3 months just to get to see the specialist with another month or two wait for the procedure back in Canada.
We then sauntered down to the hospital cafeteria, had a lovely lunch, and made our way back for the test results. After a chat with the doctor, we were then handed our reports, our images on a DVD, and a lovely carry bag. We were done!
This was a terrific experience and I would highly recommend it. Medical tourism in Penang is a bit of a work in progress, but as I try dentists, doctors, eye specialists etc. I am delighted with the terrific care, the fantastic nursing staff, the great equipment, and the congenial doctors. I have a feeling I will be arranging a few appointments for our upcoming visitors!