Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Philippine General Hospital

Past midnight, I visited the old hospital where I had trained 20 years earlier. Like many things, nothing much had changed, the hospital had only grown older. The floors that had been spanking new 20 years ago were clean albeit worn. That familiar sweet sick smell of sweat and urine and disease continued to hover throughout the general ward and "bantays" (watchers) still ambu-bagged patients for want of a ventilator. I must assume that patients still die from "bantay-failure", when these watchers invariably stopped squeezing the bag from utter exhaustion.

The hospital, which was organized largely through the efforts of Dean Worcester (who arrived with one of those commissions more than a hundred years ago) teemed with patients and relatives. Only the most ill were admitted to this institution and I noticed that all the nurses were young, a reflection of the massive emigration of multiple generations of nurses. This place very well represents the country. Built from scratch with a little money and good intentions. Started out with a lot of promise and continues to care for an unmanageable number of the needy. The people in the hospital try to make the best of their decrepit surroundings and unless they see other hospitals elsewhere in the world think that their current conditions are the most that they can hope for.

Production. Production. Production. We must strive to make ourselves productive. Our leaders need to guide and inspire us to become productive. We need to understand that we can only benefit from whatever we produce. No production means no benefits. Civilizations begin from a single spark. The Philippines is ripe for a rebirth. We need to figure out how to put the pieces together.

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