Our day started at 7:45 am with a 90-minute drive to the Beijing Champion Crown Dental (Ying Guan) company to visit one of three facilities owned by Mr. Dapeng Guo, the general manager and owner.

In 2002, he started a denture-making business and, upon seeing a need to help Beijing community members with disabilities who struggled to find work, he created a campus-like work environment with dorm rooms, cafeterias, recreational areas and professional training/classroom space to learn the necessary techniques for the available jobs.

Of the 3 factories he owns and the over 200 people he employs, the majority (about 70 percent) are people with a disability, such as being deaf, blind or having certain physical limitations requiring the regular use of crutches or a wheelchair. In China having a disability makes it much more difficult for a person to be accepted into society, especially the workforce. For people with family to support, this poses a great challenge and Mr. Guo seemed to feel passionate about helping support families in need and made sure to create family living spaces for workers.

The average monthly salary in Beijing is about 1,900 RMB/month, which is what his workers get, in addition to the free housing, food (three meals a day) and free professional training. The workers are evaluated every six months and can continue working there for as long as they want, so long as their job performance meets standard expectations. The Chinese government helped to build the facility so that it was accessible and provided tax benefits to Mr. Guo for his efforts in recruiting and hiring individuals with disabilities. Everyone asked a lot of great questions and even had a chance to use the recreational area to try out the factory basketball, ping pong and billiard areas.

We transitioned from the factory back to the main city and went to the China Rehabilitation Research Center (CRRC) for our next professional visit. The immense project to create the first Rehabilitation Center in China was a huge undertaking with many cross-cultural opportunities for training and implementation based on the expertise learned from travel to and study in England, Germany, Norway, Canada, the US, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia about 30 years ago. Today there are over 2000 people employed by the CRRCr. We were able to enjoy a short video showcasing some of the history of this very comprehensive center back in 1988 and learned a bit more about the units that fall under the service-based areas and the guidance, training and resource areas. It was not until the tour of the facility that we really absorbed the magnitude of this project.

Professor Li explained in his welcome and overview of the Center that they service the entire country via their Rehabilitation Research Center. He described how the one main center provides superior staff for 28 provincial-level resource centers, 98 city and county-level centers, and finally, at the lowest level extends its reach to 4396 community-level resources. Altogether, these centers form the rehabilitation network of China, which integrates both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We were able to visit the Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and TCM units in the inpatient section and then transitioned into a new wing to the newest building addition housing the new outpatient services. There we made a quick visit the TCM pharmacy to see the herbal medicine in comparison to the typical western pharmacy.

We’ll be getting some more insight on how insurance works in China in a lecture on the healthcare system in China and more in depth information regarding TCM on Friday. The doctor who gave us the tour at the CRRC passed us off to the next guide who will provide more in depth coverage Friday. For today, she took us to the famous Peking Union Medical College. I’ll save that story for later since we will meet up for a continuation on Friday.

All-in-all, it was an impressive day and great introduction to health care in China. This was also our very first night back to the hotel before 8 PM. We returned at about 7 PM, well fed and more knowledgeable about some heath care resources, social issues and concerns in China. There were many comments from everyone about what we saw and experienced.

Tomorrow we are going to explore more of the cultural scene in Beijing by delving into a popular arts area, visiting the Temple of Heaven, and seeing a Kung Fu show, but we’ll also spend part of the day connecting with seniors at a local neighborhood and community center.

Looking forward to another long but exciting day!

This post is part of a series of guest blogs from Ine Williams, Study Abroad Advisor at the International Student Center and group leader of the spring 2015 HHS 350 course to China.

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