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Health me, if you can…

I was a bit sad when Naga City Hospital transferred from its site along Francia. That spot was so accessible. I could hitch a ride on jeep or tricycle from Centro to the hospital so easily. From there, I would walk to Centro. That meant that it was easy to rush emergency cases there. One time, I accompanied a friend who was having a hypertension attack on a late night while we were in an event in a hotel in Magsaysay. It was easy because the hospital was just around the corner. Now, I can’t do that anymore.

I found myself in the new hospital building last Saturday. Now, it’s called NCGH, with “General” inserted before the “Hospital”. I must admit that walking through the halls felt like a vast improvement (as I believe it should be). It felt like walking through a large private hospital in the city. No, I wasn’t rushed there for some emergency. I went along biddings to take advantage of the city government’s health care program which granted free medical check-up and subsequently, entirely subsidized laboratory tests and medical technology services. I have not been feeling anything suggestive of any ailment. But, it was free. So, why not?

I have to raise my two thumbs up to this program. This is one step closer to universal health care. We may not have such a program on a national scale. But, at least, in the local level, health assistance especially among the low income masses is made available. Many among the public (presumably, those who needed it more than I did) took advantage of the program, flocking to the designated centers, queuing from the early morning hours. The response itself is admirable. That speaks of the public’s awareness and active address to health concerns. They could have responded indifferently, intentionally choosing not to mind possible diseases or already existing ones. They could have perceived the long lines negatively. A few years ago, we had a problem with anti-vaxers. Now, they’re lining up to get help; and that’s good.

Maybe, they could have arranged the stations on tables on a sequential line. In that way, maybe, we should not have gone in zigzag directions across the hall in complying with the procedures. In this day and age when even the modest pedicab driver could present pictures on his own smart phone, we still have an affinity towards paper, and a lot of paper. Could not the functions of those sheets stapled together be served by one hard paper card which could be presented to the hospitals? Could we not do without all those paper? Why did they need six to nine photocopies? Could not all the information be entered electronically on one database in which all the doctors, health care workers and social workers could collaborate? But then, if they went that route, City hall would have to provide each station with a good laptop and better Internet. But maybe, they could have used their own phones. I was thinking, it was going to be a monumental task to sort through all those papers. I suppose, for now, this is the most efficient that we can get.

We arrived there around midday. I didn’t notice any of them munching on some lunch. They must have been there since the day dawned, and they would have probably been toiling it out there until it got dark. Was there a canteen where they could go to quickly when their stomachs grumble? Does Food Panda deliver in that area? These people have to eat too. Maybe, they have food allowance and I just didn’t notice it.

The rest of the day was spent hopping on hospital offices for submission of referral documents, schedule of tests and sometimes, the actual conduct of some tests. I had a quick comparative experience of staff of a government hospital and of a private hospital. In the government hospital, we were greeted with mostly middle-aged men who spoke respectfully in determined tones of voices which bordered on being upset. At one point, the staffer wanted to show the patient his logs of schedules just to prove that he was not lying, when the patient didn’t accuse him of lying in the first place. His voice went on a crescendo when a patient tried to submit a document that she should not be submitting. While waiting for our turn, we heard complaints that regular permanent status of employment would be awarded only after five years. His colleague replied that personnel would be going gone in that case.

We went to a private hospital for the other referrals. The young female receptionists were relatively more cheerful, friendly, and accommodating. The personnel who took some of my blood did it smoothly, without letting me hear of any of his complaints against management (if he had any).

I don’t want to put down one and praise the other. I’m still very grateful and I think this is a very good program. But, there’s some room for improvement.

1 Timothy 4:15: “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.”


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