In reaction to my blog on medical professionals, Louise—a practicing architect and urban planner—wrote me about her sister’s frustrations about working in government-owned hospitals.
DAVE—Kathleen [a doctor] is frustrated the way things are going at Government Hospitals. She relates to me how RUDE the sick poor are, particularly the relatives. I told her, why don't she make a journal of her encounters because there are really some cases that deserve a deeper study since these affect statistics? Facts:
1. A SOB father brought his wife in labor at the middle of the night. The baby delivered turned out to be premature. He has to be put in an incubator. After 24 hours under Kathleen's patient care, the baby was already doing fine. Then this SOB insisted that he brings his child home already kasi okay na daw [the child is ok]. He threatened everybody at the hospital if he will not be allowed to do it. So he was made to sign a waiver. Within the day, he has to rush his kid back to the hospital. Too late because the child died. This happened at Trece Martires.
2. A number of times, some near-death patients are rushed at dawn at Trece or JP Rizal with relatives demanding that they be attended immediately. Two weeks na daw na nilalagnat, kung di pa tumirik ang mata, tsaka nila naisipang dalhin sa hospital. [The child had fever for two weeks. Yet they only bring the kid to the hospital when the child had convulsion] Then they blame everybody at the hospital if the emergency case turns out fatal. There was a case when one resident doctor from La Salle was stabbed by a frustrated poor patient because of that.
My question is, are the mindset of poor people mostly like that? If this is so, what is the deeper reason behind this? Who is to be blamed? Their genes, their breeding, or external factors such as the government?
My sis once had an altercation with a poor patient at Trece. A drunk man threatened her for suggesting and making an endorsement that his wife be brought to PGH because all oxygen tanks were in use and there was no available one for the patient. The man yelled daw, "Anong klaseng Hospital ng Gobyerno 'to, ni oxygen tank, wala? Anong klase kang Doctor?" [What kind of government hospital is this? You don’t even have an oxygen tank!] "Hoy", my sister yelled back," taxpayer ka ba, para mag-demand ng ganyan sa gobyerno natin?" [Hey, do you pay your taxes honestly to demand so much from the government?] If the guard haven't intervened daw, muntikan na [If the guard did not intervene, violence could have erupted].
LOUISE—I would like to think that good manners and right conduct has nothing to do with one’s economic class. There are also many rude people in the middle class and the rich. I guess it’s the failure of the country’s educational system. But in absolute terms, there are more rude people among the poor simply because there are just too many poor people in this country. That should also mean there are a lot more nice people among them than among the rich who are numerically few. [By the way, I got the Pulse Asia indicators and found out I belong to the “poor” segment of the population.]
The real danger there is that some people tend to romanticize the poor. Blame Karl Marx for that. When Marx started telling the world the masses are the heroes of history, some intellectuals started interpreting this view in moral terms. So the poor can do no wrong even if they are rude. I don’t think so. I guess the best way to deal with the problem is to post security guards at strategic areas of the hospital all the time. Yes, many of them may yet inherit the kingdom of heaven but they have to behave well while on earth.
For a long time, I’ve been wondering why, our national Jose Rizal, did not support Andres Bonifacio’s “working class” revolution in 1896. His explanation: he feared that the slaves of his time will simply be the tyrants of tomorrow. That’s why he wanted change to come gradually. He stressed that the masses should attain education so they would know the science and fine art of governance. We are still figuring out that science and fine art of governance even until today. [It was not a “working class revolution” by the way, but that’s another story. I’ll write another piece on that].
This country of course is a country of whiners. People, rich and poor, always think the government should provide everything. When those liberation theologians in the 80s think there should be “preferential option for the poor,” many of those poor people think the government owes them every thing. Never mind that in this country each one is trying to avoid paying taxes. Pathetic but true.