It was on a Wednesday April 8 I got a text message from my brother that something happened to Papa and that I should go immediately to East Avenue Medical Center. This was around 2 PM.
Fearing the worst, I had to move quickly. I got a call a few minutes later from a stranger saying my father hit his head badly and had to rush to the hospital. I did not want anything happening to my father. So off I went, as fast as I could and as fast as the public transportation could take me. I called my sister, since she was closer to where my father was. We met near the hospital, then proceeded to go to the emergency room.
Turns out that my father was in the trauma area, lying down on his side. His right eye bruised, his hair disheveled, and blood stains all over his front shirt. My sister, her daughter and I came up to his bed side, asking him all sorts of questions on what happened. He slurred most of the time, and he could not put words together. There was a woman with him by the bed, an average looking person by the name of Rossana Norcio, an employee of DSWD. Rossana told me that she discovered my father collapsed on the sidewalk a few meters away from his home at around 8am. Onlookers huddled around him, but nobody moved him for close to an hour. Some deadbeat decided to take advantage of the situation and took my father’s wallet while he was unconscious. Rossana rushed him to the hospital; I don’t know how she did it, considering my father was twice her size. When they got there, the staff gave him a bed, and then my father vomited blood. According to Rossana, the staff did some cursory checks, plugged in an IV, then left him to try and contact relatives. After that, nothing else. Rossana tended to his needs all day, until we came along. So for close to 7 hours my father had nobody attending to him or his needs.
45 minutes have past since we arrived. The unusual thing is not one doctor or nurse came by to see my father or to tell us what is wrong. Why is this stranger telling me these things, not the medical staff? I looked around the trauma room as if for the first time. A lot of patients were on their beds, with their relatives close by. About 4 doctors and 6 nurses were huddled around a desk, just sitting down, entertained by a laptop .None of the relatives by the bedside had chairs to sit on, and the nurses and interns were seated on monobloc chairs laughing their heads off, probably from some inane thing on the laptop. One Medical center staff did come up to us, a security guard, telling us that my niece was not allowed in the trauma room. Asked why, the idiot could only say that she was not allowed. I told him arrest us if he dares, but my niece stays.
I then moved to the doctors and nurses who were huddled around the laptop, hoping to get some answers. I stood by their side, but it took them a full minute to realize I was even there. They look up from the laptop screen, shook their head as if to say ‘what’s up?’ “I have been here for almost an hour and not one of you has told me anything about what happened to my father.” They looked around, probably realizing they were in a hospital. One of the doctors, a middle aged man by the name of Dr. Gao, told me that my father had a head trauma and needed a CT scan. “What happened?” I asked, incredulous that these people are still seated around the laptop while speaking with me. “He hit his head when he collapsed” Dr. Gao was saying. I asked why he collapsed; he could only say that a CT scan would show.
My father called me over to his bedside, saying he needed to go to the bathroom. My sister left to get him fresh clothes, so I had to deal with this alone. Since he was too weak to get from bed, I believed he had to be wheeled to the bathroom. So I initially pushed the bed. No nurses came, so I pushed the bed out of its place and then proceeded to the bathroom down the hall. Along the way, we passed the desk where the doctors, nurses and interns were seated around the laptop. Not one of them stood up to help me maneuver the heavy hospital bed and the IV rack towards the bathroom. Turns out they were enthralled by a game with balls on the screen.
We went back to the trauma area after the bathroom break. Still unassisted. The nurses, doctors and interns were still glued to their plastic seats. East Avenue Medical Center. Sheesh. I came up to them to complain, asking why none of them assisted me. Are you short handed?, are you too busy? This fat nurse, still parked on her ass, just asked if my father was able to go. I then reminded her, at the top of my lungs, that my taxes are paying for their salaries. One of the other doctors smiled at this remark, complacency written all over his face. He wasn’t looking at me when I saw the smirk, he was plastered all over the LCD screen. I then asked this fat nurse why it is more important that the nurses, doctors and interns have seats than the relatives and caretakers of the patients. She didn’t say anything, nor did any of the so called medical idiots around the desk. My temper rising, I decided to take photos of the situation.
It turns out that no one asked my father about anything about his condition. Dr. Gao did not know anything. The medical staff did not know that he has not had anything to eat since the day before. They did not know that my father takes anti-hypertensive heart medicine. They didn’t ask questions about the medical history of my father. And for seven hours they just let him marinate in his own blood attached to an IV drip, saying he could not eat or drink anything until he got the CT scan? So why after all these hours a CT scan was not done yet. The East Avenue Medical Center CT scanner has been out of order for two weeks, and that we have to move my frail father to a clinic behind the hospital where they had a CT scanner. Dr. Gao agreed with me that my father probably collapsed because of weakness from not eating for a couple of days and getting strenuous exercise that morning on a severely empty stomach. That was my deduction, and here was a medical profession graduate, who did more hours doing the books and cutting up cadavers than I will ever in my life time, agreeing with me on MY diagnosis.
The CT scan showed no bruises, blood clots or fractures. I felt sorry for my dad, lying in his own piss on a bed, bruised and forlorn, no one assisting him even to the bathroom. The trauma room was supposed to be a clean area, but the windows were all open, letting in all the polluted air from East Avenue to waft in, the floor littered with discarded rubber gloves, patients looking around for hope and help. The whole hospital also does not have a working X-Ray machine, so the patients had to be manually brought out to nearby clinics to get them scanned, and to come back painfully to his hospital. I cleaned up my dad as best as I could, get him changed with the clothes my sister brought. Dr. Gao gave him the all clear to go home. And that’s it. He gave us a list for symptoms to look out for, but no prescriptions. No one assisted us out of the hospital. The nurses and the interns, albeit a different shift has taken over, are still huddled around the desk with the laptop. So I helped my father onto a wheelchair, wheeled him out to the drive and into my sister’s car. Not one of these so called medical professionals helped us on this final trip out of the hospital.
My father is now resting, eating again, but slowly. My sister checked up on him the other day, and he seems to be okay. But he could have gotten better medical attention. The staff at East Avenue Medical Center, no matter what their intentions, is complacent and unprofessional. Their ‘do no harm…’ idiom certainly does not apply in this hospital because the CT scan and the X-ray machine are on the fritz. It was more important for them to sit and wait for patients to come in, attend to their initial needs, and sit some more. It a sorry state to witness our taxes going into institutions such as this. The bathroom had no running water, garbage were not segregated, nurses and interns having tsismis sessions for hours on end before attending to the patients.
I hope this iteration will get to somebody who can do something about the government hospitals. Because a lot of Filipinos are at the mercy of these complacent doctors, nurses and interns. Maybe some have died or suffered unnecessarily because they decided that sitting down and being around a laptop was more important. That only one doctor came to father’s bedside, at my own asking. That the fat nurse was more concerned about the forms I fill out for the CT scan than what my father has eaten or that he needed to got to the bathroom. For the people who are afflicted, try as much as possible to not go to East Avenue Medical Center for your needs. Just go as a last resort. They will not take care of you. For the masses who could not afford proper medical care, please ask a lot of questions if and when a doctor or nurse does attend to you. Make sure that these medical workers are working, are remembering why they got into the profession in the first place. My father will never go back to that place again. He will probably die there, like the two patients that did the whole afternoon we were there. My father is too good for that. He will go to heaven peacefully, in clean clothes, on a soft bed, with a proper doctor and his family at his side.