In this post I’ll be talking about our experience when my 3 year-old fell sick and needed medical help urgently on a Sunday, with Monday right afterwards being a public holiday.
If you need to get your infant or toddler to a doctor immediately on a Sunday or public holiday, please scroll down to the bottom of this post for information on the hospitals with a department for little children.
With that being said, onward with the post!
It almost didn’t happen but we’re back in Busan for just three-and-a-half weeks this time before my mother-in-law moves to France.
While we’re excited to be here, after a poor flying experience with Air China (there’ll be a whole separate post for that!), something happened that made us realise just how risky it can be to travel with a toddler to Busan.
After just a few days, our three year-old daughter a.k.a. The Littlest Dictator contracted a urinary tract infection, that caused her a lot of pain whenever she had to pee. The poor girl would cry and scream every time.
An infection like that requires antibiotics so you really need to get to a doctor.
Problem was, it was a Saturday night, with Sunday being New Year’s Eve, meaning the next day would be a holiday as well. So just take her to a hospital. No problem, right? Turns out not all hospitals here have a paediatrician or even a children’s section in their A&E departments.
I went to the largest hospital near our place in Haeundae, the Inje University Haeundae Paik Hospital and was told that the specialist would only be available on Tuesday and later Friday. With the pain The Littlest Dictator was in, this was unacceptable.
Fortunately after pressing a little bit for help, the counter clerk gave me two recommendations: Pusan National University Hospital (PNUH) and Dong A University Hospital. He said these were Grade 3 hospitals, meaning they’d have children’s specialists on call at all times.
I would learn later from speaking with various people that apparently, these were the only Grade 3 hospitals in all of Busan and that most people including Koreans did not know what Grade 3 hospitals even were.
Wouldn’t be a problem if you were near the Busan KTX station.
For us in Haeundae, it means more than an hour of traveling to the other side of the city, which is huge (compared to Singapore at least!)
Early next morning while the family had breakfast I’d decided to head over the Busan Tourist Information Center (I’ll try and get a picture later) to see if maybe they had suggestions. Turns out, not really. They tried calling another large hospital nearby, the Haeundae Bumin Hospital who actually asked us to check with the Inje University Hospital I’d gone to previously. So yep.
So I let my brother–in-law know where I was so he could pick me up. And miraculously on this particular morning, he seemed to have forgotten how to use the goddamn GPS and I instead had to walk back and forth in the freezing cold until he finally let me know that he and my wife were at the Burger King in the middle of a road that wasn’t even near any of the places we’d talked about. WELL DONE, MAN.
But he was driving us, and without him the cab ride would’ve cost a crazy amount so fine.
Of course naturally, he got lost and instead of going to Dong A University Hospital – which he had insisted was nearer even though everyone I met said that PNUH was closer to where we were – we ended up in a weird small mountain town at a building for Dongan Medical Centre or something. A small clinic that wasn’t even open. GODDAMMIT.
We eventually reached PNUH but not before the Littlest Dictator had to pee again and cried out in pain. This is what happens when you leave the navigation to people who are too goddamn proud to be wrong, you know what I mean?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad he was around to help and even stuck around to bring us back home. But the delays were really unnecessary. 4/10.
Anyway, we finally reached PNUH and YES! They really did have a children’s department.
Of course the moment I arrived, they straight up asked me if I’d be OK if the bill reached or exceeded USD $1K (around 1,000,000 in Korean Won). Yea that was the first red flag, I guess.
We were led to the children’s section:
Not long after that, I had to keep slapping away the hands of grabby doctors and nurses who were super eager to run tests, a few of which I realized later were not necessary. Those tests did manage to significantly bump up the bill though…
Overall, our experience with the staff were alright. Most of them spoke English, sometimes broken but enough to communicate.
After a couple of hours over there they finally confirmed what we suspected about the UTI and prescribed antibiotics.
And how much did it cost? A whopping KRW 876M (around USD $876). HOLY SHIT. I mean sure we’ve got travel insurance that we could claim back against back in Singapore, but if we hadn’t had the money up-front, I shudder to think what would’ve happened.
Fortunately the Littlest Dictator is doing much better now, and the pain seems to have gone away though she still needs to finish the course of antibiotics.
As much as I loved visiting Busan, this was something I did not expect and man, you should seriously reconsider visiting if you’ve got a little one in tow.
I’ll try and add more pictures to this post much later.
In the meantime, here’s the information on PNUH and Dong A University Hospital:
While at either of these hospitals, if you need translation help, call or get them to call 1330.
It’s a 24-hr hotline specifically for tourists, maintained by the Korea Tourism Organization and they’ve got excellent English speakers who can help.
Here’s a link to more information: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRV/TV_ENG_3_1.jsp
Pusan National University Hospital
Location: Address : 179 Gudeok-ro, Seo-gu, Busan-si, 49241 Korea
Contact number: +82-51-240-7472~3
Dong A University Hospital
Location: 26 Daesingongwon-ro, Seo-gu, Busan-si, 602-812 Korea
Contact number: +82-51-240-2400~1
Update 12th Jan 18: Included information on two other children’s hospitals in Haeundae:
- Haeundae Pureun Bada Children’s Hospital (this recently opened on the 5th of Jan 18)
- Centum Children’s Hospital
Haeundae Pureun Bada Children’s Hospital
A couple of days after our costly experience with PNUH, I found a flyer stuck to the front door (this is still a pretty common advertising tactic in Busan) for Haeundae Pureun Bada Children’s Hospital, which apparently opened on the 5th of Jan 18.
Other that what’s in the flyer, I haven’t been able to find any other additional information on this hospital, including a website. Not sure if I’ll have the time to swing by, or even if they have an A&E section but it’s good to know that it’s around.
Unfortunately I can’t even find an English transliteration of the address. But if you call 1330, the helpline staff should be able to get in touch with them for you.
Centum Children’s Hospital
This is another hospital that I found via Google while looking for the Haeundae Pureun Bada hospital above. I’d probably come across this one before, but figured I’d include it in this post as well.
The website is a little bizarre and looks somewhat broken though: http://www.ctadong.co.kr/
Not sure if they have any English speakers there, but again just remember to call 1330 and they should be able to help you out.
Address: 407 Haeun-daero, U-dong, Haeundae, Busan
Again, one important thing to note is that neither of these two might have an A&E or even open during Sunday and public holidays. So for emergencies, you might still have to head to one of the two Grade 3 hospitals mentioned above: PNUH and Dong A University Hospital.
Stay safe everyone!