In China, nurses make the same salary as doctors, the few AIDS patients there are isolated, and the responsibility of caring for the elderly falls upon the family.
That according to Weber State College long-term care nursing instructor Mary Ann Anderson, who recently returned from a diplomatic tour of that country.She said the Chinese people's dedication to each other is a commitment to their government. This allows for drastically different social and health practices.
Recommended by the Utah Nurses Association, Anderson, a registered nurse, has recently visited China representing People-to-People, a private program that originated during President Eisenhower's administration. It emphasizes professional ambassadorship with communist countries.
"In China, if people are ill, they are treated," Anderson said.
The hospitals she toured were without modern intensive-care units. Mothers still stay a week after delivering their babies, and the system is old-fashioned, she said.
"I found their health care to be like my educational experiences were 20 years ago," she said. "But we saved lives."
According to Anderson, Chinese health care is absolutely adequate. It is the one advantage she said she attributes to the communist system.
China's nurses work six days a week for $20-25 a month, she said. Doctors earn about the same. There are no flexible schedules, part-time jobs or rotating weekends off. The government pays for the nurse's education and expects them to be nurses all of their lives.
"I love the energy of the nurses," she said. "They go to work and work hard for minimum pay, and a lot of that has to be out of dedication."
Chinese geriatric care is unbelievably different, Anderson said. Elderly citizens are assigned to a particular parking lot or city block, wear a red arm band denoting authority and receive respect as they officiate.
When they are too old to function, the family always cares for the relative, she said. Since everyone is expected to work, the family decides whom they will support in staying home for that reason.
Witnessing the extensive application of acupuncture was the most fascinating aspect of her tour, she said. It was typical to see schizophrenia patients walking around with needles in their heads or arthritis patients walking around with needles in their joints.
"Just as a nurse in one of our hospitals would change a dressing three times a day, nurses in traditional Chinese hospitals do their acupuncture three times a day," she said.
According to Anderson, an American psychologist touring with her group stated acupuncture managed schizophrenia as effectively as western medicinal methods.