The Philippines and the Filipino Hospital
To the average Australian, going to the hospital is a bit of a last resort. Not talking about turning up at the Accident and Emergency when you slice your finger open and it’s 3:00am. I’m talking about an illness leading to you being admitted for something. How often does it happen to the average person?
I’m going to take a punt and say not that often. I know for myself that it’s a pretty unusual thing, and same for most friends and relatives over many (many) decades of life in Australia. Except for accidents and having babies, most of us don’t turn up there very often at all. Me?
- Tonsils and adenoids at 10 years old (as they did commonly back-then)
- A couple of nights in the outpatients 15 years ago when I had a couple of bouts with kidney stones
That’s it for me!
My kids? Never (apart from a few cuts needing stitches). Ex-wife? Two babies born. Most people I know/knew? Never, or maybe once. Those 60+, yes it gets a little more common. Again, talking about the average person in Australia here.
However, if you’re involved in an Australian Filipina relationship, expect that you will soon be faced with the issue of your lady or one of her relatives being admitted to a Filipino hospital.
Hospital stays for Filipinos
Doctors in the Philippines seems somehow fairly enthusiastic about sticking you in the hospital for reasons an Australian would consider a bit mild. It means expense and it means disruption. Yet it happens all the time, and I’ve recently been thinking about this and wondering why. I have a few theories, which I’ll get to as we go along. I’ll just explain a few characteristics, which may or may not get me into trouble with any Filipino nurses reading this.
Nurses in Australia? In Jeff Harvie’s opinion, the absolute salt of the earth. Big hearts, and hard workers. Highly capable, and worthy of respect. Wonderful human beings doing a fantastic job. Instincts better than some of the doctors. Dealing with miserable patients, screaming, horrible smells etc all day, yet keeping a smile and a sense of humour. The doctor comes and sees you for a few minutes, and the rest of the time it’s the nurses that take care of you.
Nurses in Philippines? Horribly underpaid, and many need to work for one year in a hospital for free….yes, no salary….in order to get the work experience to get their license to work (licensure). Not a whole lot of incentive to work like a saint, I can admit. However, I can almost wonder what some of these people actually DO there. They sure as hell don’t seem to spend much time taking care of patients! You go to the hospital without a steady rotation of relatives to actually take care of you and I don’t know what would come of you.
Relatives doing the nursing! Yes, the supply and removal of bedpans, washing, feeding, mopping of fevered brows…..this is done by relatives, who organize themselves around the clock to ensure that the patient is never alone. They are also the ones who need to go and purchase medicine when directed, and who have to remind nurses to replace IV fluid bags. Nurses may come and take temperatures and blood pressures from time to time, and that’s about it.
Standards of Filipino hospitals? You get what you pay for. Some are almost world-class, but others are fairly woeful. Something to take into account if, say, your lady is giving birth in the Philippines. Not a time to be uninvolved! Having said that, our nearest hospital is 5 minutes from the door. My grandchild was born there. Excellent care. Pediatrician in the delivery room. And remarkably affordable.
Reasons for being admitted to a Filipino hospital
This is where I started. If your blood pressure is very high, or if you have a high fever, you may well end up in the hospital. We’ve had several of our kids end up there over the years when the temp hits 40°C. Although the last two times where the kids (a 9 year old and a 6 month old baby) spent the first nights there unmedicated because there were no doctors to see them and where the nursing staff took their temperatures at 4 hour intervals, the next time we decided to keep the child at home. Mila and I provided better nursing care. And when I’ve had a couple of bouts of cellulitis in my leg I resisted the suggestions to be admitted and recovered quite nicely right here.
Our relatives in the province? Seems to be someone admitted every couple of months for something or other. Hard to keep up.
Yes, the cynic in me realizes that if most of the hospitals in the Philippines are owned privately by Chinese families, it’s fairly obvious that doctors are going to be encouraged to admit as many patients as possible. Quite the opposite to Australia where the public hospitals don’t have the space to fit kids with fevers and grandmas with hypertension. Of course they want money. These are businesses!
Other thing? Not everyone has comfortable homes and the ability to take care of sick people very well. If the house is cramped, hot and dusty and the bed is a mat on the floor, then the hospital is a better alternative. And where the family may save money on medicine and may get the mang hilot (quack healer) in to treat you with efficascent oil and some dubious advice instead, more reason to get the patient to the hospital.
Oh, and of course you can expect a whip-around for money next time someone is in a Filipino hospital. No one can ever pay the bill themselves. You can also expect a hospital bill to be itemized down to the pair of latex gloves and 3 cotton buds.