Oct 31, 2018
So I checked into a Japanese hospital with my daughter last night. I wasn’t planning on staying overnight—my main concern was just getting her to the ER. Don’t worry, she’s fine now, but the doc ordered her to stay overnight for observation and medication. That’s when the “oh shoot, I didn’t pack anything” moment kicked in.
I don’t have a lot of experience in American hospitals, so I can’t offer a comparison, but I took stock of what I needed here at a Japanese hospital under National Health Insurance And made a list. Here’s what I ended up bringing:
- Health records (Boshi teccho): even though my daughter goes to this hospital regularly, the system is notoriously stove-piped and doesn’t access records from other sections. Thus, when they asked me what vaccinations my daughter has had, the Boshi teccho came in handy.
- Pen. There are a lot of forms to fill out and nobody seems to have pens handy. Just good to have on hand.
- Food: they’ll offer food for your child and there is usually a conbini or a restaurant in the hospital, but as I discovered yesterday, the hospital conbini runs out of stock quickly. Also, you can’t just leave a young child alone for 40 minutes to go eat in a restaurant. I wouldn’t anyway, but policy prohibits long absences without a parent or guardian present with young children. Make sure whatever you get doesn’t need to be refrigerated, because it’ll be hit or miss whether you’ll have access to one. Also, get snacks for your children. The hospital gives meals, but no snacks in between.
- Toiletries: don’t count on there being any available to you, whether from the hospital staff or the sundry shop/conbini.
- Cash: you’ll need small change and/or small bills for vending machines.
- Entertainment: the only means for entertaining my daughter available in the hospital room was a pay-per-view TV. I’m not against paying for Japanese television, but I figured I would bring a tablet with some movies, a few books, and other small items to keep us entertained while we’re here. [Note: don’t expect your hospital to have WiFi available. Mine does not]
- Chargers: the hospital does not have any chargers available for electronic devices, though there should be plenty of outlets for your chargers.
- Sandals: the hospital doesn’t provide zori or slippers, but you’ll want something easy to slip on an off while staying.
- Toys: obviously you don’t want to bust out a 1000 piece LEGO set on a hospital bed, but one or two toys that can keep your child company are good to have handy.
- Changes of clothes: if your child gets admitted into a Japanese hospital, they’ll try to keep them at least a few nights. It’s good to have a fresh clothes handy.
Bottom line: plan for a long haul and don’t expect the hospital to provide anything for your child except food, hospital gowns, pay-per-view entertainment, and medicinal care. The rest will be up to you!
Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.
Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).