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Hopefully, your visit to or stay in Russia is free of health trouble. In any case, if, for any reason, you need to seek medical attention in Russia, here are some frequently asked questions about healthcare in Russia.
Most of what is called primary care abroad is delivered through a network of state-run facilities called поликлиника (“polyclinics”). It is basically a community-based clinic for people living in a certain neighborhood (район) that provides general practitioner/primary care physician (терапевт) services, specialist services, lab work (анализы), and medical tests (медицинские обследования). Some doctors, called участковый врач, will make house calls (this service is called вызов на дом) for those needing urgent care. If you have a health insurance policy (полис медицинского страхования, often just полис), many basic services will be free.
There are also private clinics (частные клиники) where you will likely have to pay, but the service may be more patient-centered. Больницы (hospitals) often specialize in a certain area of medicine and provide in-patient services (пребывание в стационаре) — people refer to being admitted to a hospital as “лечь в больницу” (being in [a] hospital is “лежать в больнице“).
You will normally want to make an appointment to see a doctor — записаться на приём/взять талон к + dative for a provider or записаться/взять талон на + accusative for a procedure. Талон refers to the literal slip of paper with the details of your appointment. You can make your appointment in person (лично) or over the phone (по телефону). Nowadays organizations may handle appointments electronically.
Walk-ins (приём без записи) are also available, especially for the терапевт or участковый врач mentioned above. However, the line (очередь) may be quite long. In this case, it is called живая очередь (a “live” line, meaning first come, first served) as opposed to приём по записи/по талонам (scheduled visits). To join the line, you would ask: “Кто последний?” (“Who’s the last person in line?”) and keep track of that person.
Traditionally, you would need to first check-in at регистратура (check-in window), usually located on the ground/first floor of the building. There, the receptionist would either start or find your patient chart (завести or найти карту пациента, respectively), which have until recently been exclusively on paper.
You would then take your chart and go upstairs to find the room (кабинет) of the medical provider you are looking for. Sometimes the staff has the chart sent up to the office because they don’t want patients tampering with records (not very patient-empowering, I know). You would wait your turn in line in the hallway outside the office door. American-style waiting rooms (приёмный покой) where you are called in from are uncommon.
Stay tuned for the second half of this post to learn who will be seeing you in the doctor’s office and how the visit will go.
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