Thank God for UP-Philippine General Hospital

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

I am terribly pleased that my ENT, Dr. Joey Lapena, is from UP-PGH (University of the Philippines Philippine General Hospital) and that I had my successful medical procedure done there.

So many great things happened.

One, I was lucky to get a single room in the pay ward. I won’t tell you how much, but it is only 20 percent of what I last paid at a private hospital, without a refrigerator and bench. My room at PGH had a refrigerator, flat-screen TV, air-conditioning and a large sleeping bench for my sister Flora. It was clean, spacious and had a great view.

Two, how many people do you need to clean a room? At UP-PGH, four persons do that task: one to sweep the floor, one to mop the floor, one to clean the toilet, and the fourth one to take out the garbage. And they do that every day. Still, I noticed that the corners were not clean.

Also, they sweep or mop around things but not under the bed, bench, garbage bins, food trolley, the moveable cabinet, or beneath our luggage. I was wondering if having four cleaning attendants to a room would help solve our unemployment problem.

Three, I had the best doctors and nurses in the whole world. Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes about 15 years of practice and substantive experience for one to be an expert in one’s field of endeavor. Being a government hospital that extends free medical services to the needy, I surmise that my doctors have more than 15 years of experience by now given the number of patients they attend to every day. And they could not be selective or exclusive. Being a doctor or a nurse at UP-PGH is a higher calling — it is not just a vocation or a job. And that extends to the non-medical staff there who also daily serve the throng of patients in various capacities—facilities maintenance, cashier, billing, pharmacy, elevator operator, etc.

The nurses use high-tech gadgets to test your pulse, take your temperature, and so on. In that expensive private hospital I went to previously, they still use the mercury thermometer that they stick under your tongue or armpit.

Except one nurse (there is always a bad egg). After he removed my IV, he simply put a cotton ball and plaster on the puncture in my skin. I reached out for something using my other hand. Then I noticed that I was profusely bleeding at the puncture where the IV needle used to be.

My sister called the man-nurse. He immediately scolded and blamed me, “You must have pressed on the hole that is why it bled.” I told him that I didn’t and had in fact been using the other hand to get something. He told me, while changing the cotton ball and plaster, repeatedly 10 times, that I did press on the hole and not to do it again. I muttered a silent curse but I checked my anger since I just had a major surgery and didn’t want to jeopardize my healing just because of a rude man-nurse.

Four, before my anesthesiologist put me to sleep, I noticed the very modern and up-to-date equipment inside the operating room. The room was brightly lit and spic and span, and it smelled good, too, instead of reeking of antiseptic. And I noticed that everybody in the room was smiling and the members of the operating room team were exchanging pleasant banter with one another. That’s a good sign that they will do a good job because they are happy with their job.

Five, the recovery room was full when I came to. I observed a lot of IVs in their bed hangers and nursing staff rushing to attend to as many patients as possible. I could not move my head because of some protective brace they put in my neck, but I could hear patients, nurses and doctors conversing and consulting each other. Since I was one of the first cases, my bed was located in the inner area of the room. So when they were moving me out, the beds were like pieces in a puzzle that they moved in order to bring me to the door. It was a bit of fun, but a dizzying episode.

There are many other positive things I could say about UP-PGH, but I would rather not go back there as a patient again; I wish to live a healthy life ever after.

I appeal to our dear readers to please pass this on to your friends, family, relatives, Facebook friends, neighbors, and others: UP-PGH needs our help for the maintenance, upkeep and continued improvement of its medical services, other services, buildings and facilities especially those that serve the needy and seriously ill. Let us donate cash so that they could buy what they really need. Oh, well, we could also donate non-cash items like food, water, medicine, office supplies, medical supplies, and many, many others. I am convinced your donations will be put to good use and could help save lives.

BTW, I had total thyroidectomy and, blessed be God, my biopsy showed that I had colloid nodule and not cancer. Thanks to those who bombarded the gates of Heaven with prayers on my behalf. Alleluia!


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  1. James Dennis C. Gumpal on

    My dream is to see a PGH in a multi-hectare area built using global standards and cutting-edge health technology, but unlike foreign hospitals, the design is such that it is culturally-sensitive (e.g., it considers the patient’s family and relatives in the hospital design whose presence can actually aid in the healing process—this idea is from Ptr. Ed Lapiz), energy-efficient, self-sustaining (from Health Research and Development innovations produced by doctors and health professionals which are income-generating), and employing the VERY best of our health professionals. This dream is actually workable even right now if we put our hearts and minds to it.

  2. Enrique M.Ostrea Jr, M.D. on

    June 29, 2014

    Dear Madam:
    Thank you for writing your article in the Manila Times and we, as members of the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Association of America (UPMASA) are very pleased that our goals are slowly being realized. The story behind the renovation of the PGH hospital pay ward goes a little way back when it became evident to us who have actually witnessed the poor conditions of the pay ward of PGH that something had to be done to improve the situation. The rooms were in very poor condition and the main reason why patients persisted in being treated in such dismal accommodations was the excellent physicians they trusted. Thus, as a small group of 4 UP alumni, we started a campaign to solicit donations to improve the private pay room with the added incentive that each donated room will be named after the donor in honor of his/her loved ones (e.g., spouse, parents). We set a goal of $5000 donation for the renovation of each room with an intent to raise $500,000 to renovate 100 rooms to a standard that was comparable to the high priced, first class hospitals in Metro Manila. What started as a small campaign, spread like wildfire and it was for this reason, that the project was named,”Operation Wildfire.” In fact, one donor donated $112,000 for a wing and I’m quite sure that it was in one of the rooms of that wing that you were confined in. In no time, we will have many more renovated rooms that will reach the high standards similar to what you have described, These private rooms will also be self sustaining since part of the room’s income will be used to maintain the room in top condition. More importantly, a major part of the room’s income will be channeled towards the medical needs of the indigent patients of PGH. It should also be mentioned that the PGH administration has put in their share of providing new beds and table, flat screen TV, refrigerator, visitor’s bench. Roman curtains and the air conditioning system in the renovated rooms. It is heartening to know that these amenities did not escape your observation. There are so many to thank for these changes, particularly the alumni of the UP College of Medicine in the United States who have continuously and unselfishly given back to PGH and their alma mater, the UP College of Medicine. They are the unsung heroes to praise as you raise your voice “thanking God for the Up-Philippine General Hospital”

    Operation Wildfire committee
    Enrique M. Ostrea, Jr., M.D., Head .
    Ofelia Bernabe-Madrid, M.D., Member
    Mariflor Suarez-Jamora, M.D. Member
    Milagros P. Reyes, M.D., Member

  3. Dear Madam,

    You column arrived on my desktop today. I am very glad to learn that you had a benign nodule.

    I am very pleased to learn of your care at the Philippine General Hospital. The Physicians, Nurses and all staff are important in the care of a patient. A small part are the accommodations. PGH Director Jose Gonzales and Neurosurgeon Gerardo Legaspi are instrumental in persuading the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society to help renovate the Pay Wards of the Philippine General Hospital. If only the rooms were more presentable pay patients will come to PGH. This will help generate funds to support PGH especially as it serves our less fortunate countrymen. The best Doctors are at the Philippine General Hospital.

    I partcipated in the blessing and opening ofthe Homena-Hetz wing of the Payward. It is an “oasis” in the middle of PGH. I dreamt of making the whole PGH an oasis for the Country.

    Your column will inspire UPMASAns as we gather in San Diego, California to plan our next move: The re-establishment of the UP Manila School of Health Sciences in Leyte.


    Silverio Cabellon, Jr., M.D.
    University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society in America