In our defense

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Please refer to the above newspaper article that has been circulating in social networks this week. I don’t think I can ignore it, nor bear not doing anything about it.

While I salute you for your brave statements in your now-published article, I think I’m only doing this out of respect. I should say that I am with you in calling to this country’s senators so that they could experience first-hand what it is like to find yourself in a public (supposedly prestigious) hospital. I commend your efforts in raising public awareness of the consequences for pretend doctors.

However, those could be the only positive notes I gather from reading your thoughts. I can’t help but comment on so many points, even stopping myself from typing the first things that came into my mind the first time I read your work. I talked myself into rereading because I might be missing your point. Did you write the article to get on the good side of Sen. Miriam so that she can back you up in saying that the hospital you visited is beyond disappointing? Or were you telling the world that you didn’t get the attention you think you were due? Because from what I read you were only as arrogant as the nurse you described to us.

Irresponsible Journalism

First, can you imagine how the doctor that paid attention to you and your patient felt when he read your article? How would it feel to a doctor to be called a fake doctor when he was only doing his job? Worse, when he is actually a doctor? To answer your question (your title), resident doctors are real doctors. Do your research.

While I recognize that it is your right to share about everyday experiences and topics that appeal to people or those that raise awareness, I think it’s unfair that you get back at people publicly, that is, releasing your personal vendetta against health professionals through a broadsheet read by millions of people where the people you write about wouldn’t be able to defend themselves. But good job in not naming them, or didn’t you only because you didn’t get the names since there were no name tags?

It’s still a bold move, sharing your experience. I ask you these: Do you think that publicly humiliating health professionals could get you better service from them? Once your article was published, did you feel a sigh of relief because in a way you were able to evaluate the hospital on how poorly they have served you and your friend? Did that sigh of relief alleviate the country’s problems on budget cuts in the health sector? I think not.

Calling on a Government

This begs the question: Are government hospitals really that bad? I’m not writing to drive away patients from public hospitals. As a matter of fact, I would highly recommend a government (general) hospital to anyone who wants to have quality care because they have the best health professionals despite limited resources. But, even our public officials can’t see that, because they know that pieces of equipment of advanced technology cannot be found in these hospitals? They prefer private hospitals to public ones even when a week’s stay in the most deluxe of rooms in the former is way, way cheaper than a day’s stay in a private room in private hospitals? I ask you to think and think hard, where does the problem lie?

Now I ask the columnist, when you found yourself at the emergency room for a friend, how many doctors were on duty. Can you estimate the nurse-patient ratio? Do you have anything against people not in uniform? Disregard my last question! I only asked because there are what we call relievers (Again, research is a function of responsible journalism.), who come to the rescue of areas having large nurse-patient ratios. It could have been that the nurse who saw your friend just came in and haven’t the chance to change into uniforms because the nurse saw it more important to assess your friend, and was later on turned off by how rudely you answered her first question. Also, residents needs not wear uniforms because well they’re pretty much on their own as they already are full-fledged doctors.

Good nurses make ocular surveys; the first sight of a patient gives him or her hint of what the problem might be. But it’s standard to ask what the problem is to accurately note the chief complaint of the patient, and consequently address the problem. Now, I think you would prefer this than a nurse who assumes what the patient’s problem is, and goes ahead with poor diagnosing and planning. That would lead you to publishing articles on medical and nursing malpractice. I certainly wouldn’t want that.

Moreover, did you have a good look around the ER? You weren’t getting your fair share of attention from you the doctor. But who was? You were made to wait an hour or two before your next conversation with a health professional. But who wasn’t? The point is that one must be open-minded. Did you think twice before judging others? Did you even consider for one minute whether or not the staff was having a bad day, or more difficult patients, or even more toxic patients such that the care rendered for your patient was delayed? Or did you think that not attending to you and your friend immediately was on purpose? Now, why would we do that? Not unless we are the kind of people who are worth talking about in publications.

But no one deserves such treatment. In the first place, rendering care should never be delayed. In the ideal world, doctors should be in the same room as the patient seconds within a call. In the ideal world, every health-related need should be addressed immediately, every order carried out when it should be carried out. But that’s in the ideal world. In a country like ours that is far from ideal, we make do of the resources we have. We learn to compromise, our experiences teach us to prioritize very well. We schedule our staff so that they have maximum amount of adequate rest so that they can serve others optimally, because we can only employ this many nurses in one ward any one night. We can’t cater to every procedure because some machines may not be available, either broken or operating on specific times only. Do you wonder how much the hospital owes the electric company?

Collective Effort, anyone?

We can only hope that the government wouldn’t turn a blind eye on our situation, and that the public be informed of the need for a better healthcare system, especially now that we are months away from electing (hopefully) responsible leaders. We have to know that for us to provide quality care we can’t cut the supplies short. We should get rid of band aid solutions: limit the number of doctors/ nurses/ other professionals employed because we can’t afford the salary, train doctors to tell patients drugs one and two are must-buys and the rest only when they have change, impose health professionals to communicate in English so we can cater to locals and foreigners alike, when that shouldn’t be the case. Think long term! How about we increase our budget allocation for the health sector so that health is indeed abot-kaya? How about improving the standard of education rather than exempting students from taking entrance exams only for us to say this country has more scholars? Then wouldn’t you say that we are indeed producing qualified professionals? And how about a more humane milieu for our workforce, and appropriate compensation that comes on time?

May this article serve as an eye-opener, as the author asked. But in my experience, you should see what it’s like having to stay in these dismal (Haven’t you heard it’s the new normal?) hospitals, longer? Lucky for you, you only had to stay for minutes, hours, days. What about those who are chronically ill who are constant need of medical attention for months, years, but can’t financially afford the rent for machines because perhaps the government has failed them once again in another way? While I ask you to cut our health professionals some slack because they have to put up with this upsetting situation every day, I also encourage you to look at the bigger picture. We have to be responsible for the things that we say, check and double check them, and to understand that what we have is only the product of what we can fight for. I’m sure that the author wasn’t at all pleased with her experience and just had to share her sentiments. If only we could make a more collective effort, a call more clarion, for the government to actually take notice, then there’s no need for another media ruckus.

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