Healthcare and regular doctor’s visits are important to us, especially when it comes to our children. So, less than a month after we moved to the Philippines, my American husband and I looked for a local pediatrician for our son. We were referred to one at St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City. Though this hospital was far from where we live, we went to see this doctor because he was recommended.
Here’s the general practice here in the Philippines when it comes to seeing a doctor. It’s somewhat similar to waiting to be seated at a restaurant.:
- First, appointments are only specific to the day, not time. To confirm, you have to make an appearance on that day. The doctor’s office would not accept confirmations by phone.
- Next, you’re signed up on a waiting list.
- Then, you wait for your name to be called. If you’re not there, you’ll lose your spot.
For our first doctor’s visit, we thought we were too early by arriving 30 minutes before the doctor’s office hours. But when we got there, there were already three people ahead of us. We took turns carrying our little boy as he didn’t want to sit still. The doctor finally arrived after an hour and half. By then, our son was already upset and crying as he wanted to crawl on the dirty hospital floor. It took another hour and a half before we got seen.
Stressed out, exhausted, and upset, we complained to the doctor that we never experienced anything like this in the states. Back there, we would schedule several days or weeks in advance for a date and time. And we got seen on the time scheduled, give or take 10-15 minutes. We had never been late or didn’t show up, because if we ever would, the doctor would charge us a fee, which if not settled properly, would reflect negatively on our credit score. But he just shrugged his shoulders.
Needless to say, we ditched that pedia, and switched to a nearer and more punctual one. And for future visits, we came in prepared. I bring a Sudoku booklet, or something from work, bottled water and a snack, while outside the doctor’s office waiting for my son’s name to be called. Father and son would stroll around the hospital or hang out at the Starbucks or Pizza Hut nearby. I would call my husband on his cellphone when it’s getting close to our son’s turn.
I wish there would be a more efficient, less time-wasting, scheduling system, like the one in the states. But I doubt the current practice would change anytime soon, if at all. Oh, well.