Over the last few days, I’ve been in the hospital in the Philippines. The experience has been different compared with America. I’m not used to sharing a room with ants, and the hospital has no elevator. The oxygen tanks and patents are shifted to different floors by pure muscle.
A Philippines hospital visit is like stepping back in time before modern health care. Any hospital outside of Manila seems to be like this.
Bulacan Medical Center
The Bulacan Medical Center in Malolos, Bulacan, is a public hospital. A public hospital means that poor people can visit the hospital and receive some care. The hospital was close to my location, so I went to it by riding a tricycle.
A tricycle in the Philippines is a motorbike with a passenger area strapped to it. The driver will take a passenger wherever they need to go.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me because I’m usually in good health. The triage was outside in the 90+ degree heat, and the hospital overflow was also outside under poorly constructed tents. There were several patients and visitors under each tent.
People were dying in the heat and from various issues and put into body bags and wheeled through everyone in the area. When my turn came to be seen by the doctor, I was already becoming dehydrated. I told the doctor my symptoms, and the first thing the doctor ordered was an x-ray.
I was having a severe breathing issue but didn’t realize it at the time, so I was really out of it. I was almost incapacitated and stumbled when walking. I was suffocating and received no help from the medical staff. There was only a handful of staff for hundreds of patients.
The x-ray area was almost outside and was under construction. 2x4s framed the inner walls, and there was a non-moving placement for taking x-rays. Since I was over a foot taller than everyone else, I needed to crouch for my x-ray.
The x-ray showed a large amount of mucus in my lungs. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and, of course, Covid-19. Cough and covid, diarrhea and Covid, headache and Covid. Covid is attached so much that I believe the hospitals get a kickback for having people die from Covid. The numbers seem to be out of proportion.
After another two hours, I received an IV, first in my right hand, which didn’t work, and then in my left. The lab tech used a bottle of alcohol hand spray for Covid to disinfect the area and didn’t wipe the area before inserting the needle. I doubt my skin was sterile for the insertion.
My wife paid for my medicine and gave the lab tech, who promptly lost the drugs. After an hour, the doctor had the pharmacy replace the drugs. A potent antibiotic and something to break up the mucus went into the IV port. The antibiotic burned and took about ten minutes to inject.
The medicine did nothing to relieve my problem, and I was still struggling to breathe. Doctors are so fixated on Covid that they have blinders on.
The hospital staff told me that I couldn’t leave the hospital grounds and was gave a plastic chair under a small tent where I would spend the rest of the night. I still couldn’t breathe, but it was the best they could do.
On the other hand, my wife wasn’t having any of it and, after an hour, had signed a waiver to have me released. She would take me to a private hospital where I would have a room and dedicated medical staff.
It took a while to find a tricycle at 4 AM to start our journey, but my wife was determined not to let me die. We arrived at a private hospital in 20 minutes, but they were full. Her cousin showed up a few minutes later, and off we went to find a private hospital that would take me.
After being turned away from a dozen private hospitals in the area for different reasons. The biggest issue was because I didn’t have a pre-Covid check. I thought a hospital would take you because you’re sick, but in the Philippines, a private hospital can reject anyone for any reason.
Apalit Doctor’s Hospital
After looking for a local private hospital, we called ahead and drove to Pampanga. We gave the hospital minimum details because we had little choice left, and I needed help. Thankfully they agreed to let me stay, so we drove to the hospital, and I was in an indoor triage area with air-conditioning.
I told them my chest was tight, and they thought I had a heart attack, so I received an EKG, which left severe bruising on my chest. They gave me heart medicine when something showed up in the EKG. I was still having trouble breathing, so they finally gave me a breathing treatment.
After two minutes on the nebulizer, I was starting to come back to reality. I could breathe again after having days of fighting to live with little oxygen. They admitted me to the hospital for heart problems.
The hospital staff inserted an IV port in the same vain the previous hospital did. I had not eaten or drunk anything for the last 72 hours. I was dehydrated, so they finely took blood to see what was going on. In America, one of the first things that are completed is a blood test.
After a day and a half of being treated for a heart problem, the hospital did a 2D Echo and found nothing wrong with my strong heart. The doctor suggested a Pulmonologist, so I switched doctors and started to feel better after receiving an x-ray and new medicine. The hospital was on the right track now.
The hospital also did a blood test for Covid, and the test returned positive, so I needed a swab test. I received my swab test at 10 PM that night and waited a day for the negative results. Covid so blinds Doctors that they think everyone has it. Covid is not as bad as everyone is considering, and many people are dying because doctors are not treating patients for actual ailments.
So I didn’t have pneumonia (public hospital) or heart issues (private hospital), or Covid (all hospitals).
Hospital Bill Stress
Each day I needed to pay a partial payment while fighting for my life. The staff in charge of fees was always knocking on the door, wondering when the amount would arrive. After a couple of days, I ran out of cash, and my card wouldn’t work because they used old technology.
They wanted my wife to go out and get money even though we were under Covid watch. I told the nurse, and she put a stop to that.
The billing department then wanted someone from our family to drive 1.5 hours to pay the bill. I refused this request and told them to update their payment equipment so modern cards would work. They, in turn, refused my request, so I made them wait for their 7% daily.
Two More Days
After another two days, my lungs were becoming clear. The medicine and breathing treatments were working, and I was feeling good. On day 4, I received another x-ray which showed 90% clear. I was ready to exit the hospital with a signed paper showing I didn’t have Covid.
The doctor released me, and it took hours for the paperwork, payments, and medicine list to be complete. Just like an American hospital, the last thing to go is your IV. When they took out the IV, I knew I was free again.
Thankful, I got through everything without catching Covid, I stepped into the wheelchair, and two men took me down the sloped corridor because there is no elevator. Each guy has muscles because they carry everything up.
After such an eventful time, my recovery has been slow. I have so many medicines for breathing that I’m always taking something. I believe overprescribed the best word because several of the drugs do the same thing. I’m feeling better, so I may as well do as the doctor wants. I’ll have a follow-up visit in a few days. I hope that some of the medicines are removed after the visit.
Read about a Philippines Private Resort here.
Read about my first follow-up doctor appointment here.
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Have you been to a Philippine hospital? Have you needed a hospital stay? Let me know your story in the comment section below.
Do you have questions about the medical system in the Philippines? I will try my best to answer any questions. Please leave your question in the comment section.
9 thoughts on “Philippines Hospital Visit”
Hello, Michael, thank you so much for this interesting article. You had an adventurous time in the Phillippine. I am so sorry for this but one thing you have to know. When you are traveling in such countries, you have to stay healthy! We did a circumnavigation for ten years. During those years, we were two times in a hospital.
One time in India, and the other time, in Wallis, French Polynesia.
In India, it is probably the same as in the Philippines or even worse. If you can walk, you better get out of there. In Wallis, it was way better. Because of the French Administration, the whole surrounding was straightforward, but professional. And, because it was a French overseas Island, totally for free.
Thank you for your thoughts. I should be returning to Japan later this year, so I hope to hold out until then.
Wow! Your visit to the Philippines Hospital was indeed quite gruesome! I do not have experience there, but twisted my ankle badly when we were visiting Singapore some years ago. We were in triage for about 10 minutes, then the doctor who ordered an x-ray. That took about another 10 minutes. Back to the doc who confirmed no break but intense ligament damage. We were leaving the hospital in about 45 minutes with painkillers and crutches and a bill for $150. I guess, though, Singapore is not quite a third-world country! Thank goodness!
What a dreadful experience. I have to be honest and say I think you were very lucky to come through. I think the fact is if we fall ill when traveling in less developed countries then we are at much greater risk of things going wrong. I count myself to be very lucky with an experience I had in Guinea, West Africa. I was there with an organized group studying the local music and dance. I fell sick with a bad cough that just got worse and worse. In the end, I went to the hospital. The doctor t diagnosed pneumonia. They gave me an IV with saline and heavy-duty antibiotics and pills to take afterward. I was there for some hours. I left feeling vastly better. The total bill was around $50 US. I am deeply grateful. Their diagnosis was correct and the treatment was just what I needed. I am very glad you were able to get through your experience without catching COVID. I hope you stay well. Best regards, Andy
Thank you Andy, I’m feeling much better. Thank you for sharing!
What an awful experience you have had! This is actually one of my worst fears , to become ill in a foreign country especially one of the more economically disadvantaged places in the world. I think when travelling there are a few things we can do on our end to ensure a healthy immune system before and during stay abroad and because I believe in al things natural I look at foods and herbs to boost my immune system. At least you didn’t catch covid , thank goodness!
Thank you for your post, this is truly an eye-opener to what is happening in so called hospitals in other countries
Hope you will not have this experience ever again
Thank you Janine!
Hello Michael, what a bad experience you had in those hospitals. I did not read anything else about the Philippines medical care and I want to the k you for sharing this, informing people and maybe someone there can reflect on this situation.
I hope you are well now.
Take care of yourself
Thank you Alketa, I’m feeling much better. I have a follow up appointment in two days.