The ancient Mongolian art of the blood test

So I had to get blood work done at the hospital today, courtesy of the Mongolian government’s new policy that requires blood work once before arrival (to verify we don’t have HIV), and once after arrival (to verify we didn’t catch HIV on the plane). You know how blood gets drawn in the States, how you get taken to the lab, the nurse snaps a tourniquet around your arm, your arm gets swabbed with cotton ball and disinfectant, and blood gets drawn? Getting blood drawn at Khovd Hospital is just like that. Except the lab is a rickety table and broken chair in the middle of the hallway, the cotton ball is torn off of a giant cotton/rag conglomeration sitting open on said table, the disinfectant is stored in a hand-labeled bottle of what looks like dry-erase board cleaner, and the tourniquet is a belt torn off a child’s car seat that is being tightly wrapped around your arm by the seventeen-year-old receptionist. But otherwise, exactly the same.

Afterwards, I took a look around the other side of the table. It was a bit hard to see because the power had cut out, but there was enough natural light coming in through the cracks in the doors to illuminate the duct-taped cookie package that was serving as a sharps container.

I had been told that Khovd Hospital is where you go to die, but as it turns out, Khovd Hospital is where you go for an education in the ancient Mongolian art of conducting medical procedures using only items that can be salvaged from the tragic meeting of a school bus and a cliff. I consider myself properly schooled.


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