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ER fee charged just for waiting for ‘Dr. No-Show’

/ 07:52 PM October 07, 2013

May I share an experience with a hospital in Valenzuela City. I hope this will call the attention of the city mayor and all people concerned.

Patient Fred, a Valenzuela resident, needed immediate ophthalmological services. Upon reaching the emergency room (ER), he was made to wait for the ophthalmologist because the hospital did not have one on duty that night. According to the staff, the ophthalmologist was stuck in traffic. I advised Fred to go to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) instead, so he could be treated immediately.

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But the staff did not want Fred to leave the hospital because they had already “logged in” (read: registered) his case. It was already around 8 p.m., but still nobody could say when the doctor would arrive. (My sister, a doctor, told me that in private hospitals, the ER billing starts running the moment the patient is logged. This is because private hospitals are for-profit companies. They have overhead expenses and the salaries of their staff to think about.) Since hospital policy required that all registered patients be already considered billable patients, even if no treatment had been rendered, Fred eventually paid an ER fee of P400 so he could “check out” and proceed to PGH. (Some people can well afford this amount, but for so many others that’s gold; for minimum wage workers, that’s almost a day’s worth of salary.)

In PGH, the doctor’s services are free. Nevertheless, patients have to pay P7 for the blue card, which is like a patient ID. Laboratory tests are not free either.

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Another thing, at least each municipality should have complete healthcare services for their constituents. Not everyone can run to PGH all the time. And given PGH’s condition, it simply cannot accommodate every needy Filipino. (Fred also had to wait for his turn there.)

I just felt really frustrated about the situation. When I told my sister about this, she said I should stop complaining and just donate to PGH. But a state hospital relying on private donations? That’s quite laughable, don’t you think? Especially now that we know about the pork barrel scam.

—KATHERINE TANYU,

[email protected]

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