Mar 19, 2016

Unboxing the Philippine General Hospital Charity Ward, Part II: The OB-Gyn Ward (Ward 14B)

(Source: Ramiltibayan - Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0)
This is the second part of a series of articles that chronicle my experiences at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) obstetric, neonatal ICU, and pediatric charity wards. 

On September 30, 2015, the twenty-ninth week of my pregnancy, I went into preterm labor. My OB-gyn advised me that if my baby was alive at birth, he would likely need to stay at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a month or two.

My husband and I were financially prepared for childbirth but not for a month's stay in the NICU. That's how we ended up at the PGH charity ward.

Part I is about the OB admitting section and delivery room.

Ward 14B

From the delivery room, I was brought to Ward 14B.

It was a big, clean, attractive, airy, high-ceilinged room. There was no air conditioning, but the ceiling fans were usually enough to keep the room comfortable. Patients were also allowed to bring their own electric fan, for a P25 fee.

Compared to the OBAS, Ward 14B was heaven. My husband was allowed to stay beside me, so I could tell him directly what I needed instead of playing pass the message with the nurse and the security guard. But best of all, the beds had mattresses! 

Oh, how I almost kissed those four-inch-thick mattresses. The unforgiving OBAS beds had so numbed my poor backside that when I got to Ward 14B, I could no longer feel my buttocks and inner thighs.

(Not everyone stays so long at the OBAS. But when your case is premature labor, they try to delay childbirth as long as possible to give your baby a better chance of survival. So I stayed at the OBAS for nearly 48 hours.)

At Ward 14B, the patients were allowed to have one companion stay beside the bed all the time. But make no mistake, the companion may not sit on the patient's bed or even on a vacant bed. A chair was provided for them beside the bed.

Come nighttime, the companions would lay cartons or thin mattresses on the floor beside or beneath their patient's bed, and that's where they would sleep.

At 6 a.m., a nurse would walk along the halls clanging a bell, signaling the companions to wake up and put their "beds" away. 

At 7 a.m., the breakfast cart would arrive.

At 8 or 9 a.m., the nurse would call out to the parents to line up their babies. Then the nurse would give the babies a bath. 

The lunch cart comes at 12. Then the dinner cart at 5 or 6 p.m. The man delivering food also sold juice in tetrapacks and coffee and Milo powder in sachets.

I ate pretty well. I've been to several hospitals in my life, including that hotel-like one in Ortigas Ave., but the PGH hospital food is the best tasting I've ever had!

Overall, it was a very comfortable place. In fact, the obstetric wards are, without question, absolutely the most pleasant wards in all of PGH because there is no sickness here, only recuperating mothers and their adorable babies.

There was a lactation room for mothers who wanted to pump milk. Since my baby was a preemie who couldn't suck yet, I used that room a lot. There was never a queue to deal with. Most mothers had their babies with them, and they fed directly from their mother's breasts.

The Bathroom

The main ward was like heaven, but the ward's bathroom was like hell.

To this day, I have nothing but spitting contempt for the maintenance team of that bathroom. They could never blame the patients for the pathetic condition of those bathrooms, because the patients actually cleaned up too, as much as they could.

Charity ward or not, you should never expect patients to clean up the bathroom.

And knowing that those wards were partly funded by my exorbitant taxes, I am frankly disgusted by its lack of maintenance.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you what the bathrooms were like.

There were three toilet stalls and three shower stalls.

Of the three toilet stalls, only two had a door. Of the two that had a door, one had a clogged bowl, while the other bowl had a broken pipe.

I preferred to use the one with the broken pipe because it sent your business directly down the drain, so you could flush with just one dipperful of water.  

The only problem was, because that pipe was broken and waterless, all the odors from the stuff beneath it wafted upwards, making the whole bathroom smell like a septic tank.

I mentioned flushing with one dipperful of water. That's because the flushes don't work. You had to fill a bucket with water from the shower room, carry it to the toilet, and pour it down the bowl to flush.

It's really not so hard – unless you're a woman who had just had a C-section. Then you're bound to spill a little and wet the floor. This makes the bathroom floor slippery and muddy and just plain yucky in general.

It could have been largely avoided if they had working flushes.

Of course, if your husband was there, he could flush the toilet for you. But your big, strong man is probably out trying to decode and complete the amazing array of discharge paperwork, so you're on your own most of the time.

Did I just say your husband can enter the ladies' room? No, I said he could enter the bathroom. There's no ladies' room or men's room. One bathroom for both sexes, sister. 

So you can imagine how awkward things can get should you ever decide to use that toilet stall that has no door. 

As for the shower stalls, well, they don't actually have showers. They have buckets. You know how that works: fill the bucket, bend down, scoop water, pour on self. 

It's a good time to mention that all mothers in the OB ward were required to take a bath before they could get a discharge order.

So start bending and scooping in those shower stalls. It's actually pretty easy to bend and scoop – unless you're a woman who has just had a CS. 

I stayed in Ward 14B for four days. I could have gone home on the third day, but my husband was not done with the paperwork. 

It's the same story you hear in every bed: 
  1. You ask for instructions.
  2. They send you to a long queue. 
  3. After two hours, you reach the head of the line where they give you a checklist of documents and filled-out forms you should have brought. 
  4. You leave the line, get the stuff, join the queue again. 
  5. Repeat for each of the three-or-so forms you have to complete.
In the meantime, the patient has recuperated and is raring to leave her bed so somebody else can take it. But the paperwork is not done.

At that lovely but expensive hospital in Ortigas Ave., they give you a brochure with a detailed checklist and instructions for completing the discharge procedure before you even reach your room.

I can't understand why the same cannot be done here. Give the checklist early! The expense for the paper would be the same.

In any case, my husband and I were finally able to figure out how to complete all those forms. I can't believe we had so much trouble despite our maroon-and-green Iskolar ng Bayan backgrounds. How do those with only elementary school diplomas manage?

I was discharged but the story is far from over. My baby was still in the NICU, fighting for his life.

The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of five. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

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