Clerks & Interns Discuss PGH Concerns in Dialogue with Director Legaspi

By Nefren Lobitana, Class 2020

Last March 1st 2017, representatives of clerks and interns met with Philippine General Hospital Director Dr. Gerardo D. Legaspi in a dialogue set by the 40th Medicine Student Council (MSC) to discuss their plights about the hospital and what can be done to alleviate these problems. The agenda included concerns regarding medical supplies (colloquially known as “stash”), the working conditions of the Emergency Room and its call rooms, electronic medical records system, mental health, and the shelling out of clerks and interns for the labs of their patients.

At the top of the agenda was availability of medical supplies. As one example, the student doctors’ use of vials for blood extraction is said to be limited by the supply and distribution of said equipment, especially the Acute Care Unit. This results in delays in sending the blood samples of patients to the laboratories for analysis. Intern representative Koko Pasamba (Class 2017) cites this as a result of the clerks and interns not seeing eye-to-eye with the nursing assistants (NAs) who dispense vials needed for phlebotomy.

“Ang sistema po kasi, dependent tayo sa NAs.” says Pasamba. “Ayaw nila na mabilis maubos yung gamit for [phlebotomy]. Problem is, interns don’t know their system of inventory so nagugulat na lang na ubos na pala kaya mag-aantay na lang until mareplenish ulit.”

Dr. Legaspi explained that the hospital is already working on increasing the medical supply, especially in light of the higher budget being given to PGH in the following year. He further said that there will be additional phlebotomists in the hospital who will do the specimen collection.

Another major point of discussion was the working environment in the Emergency Room (ER) complex and its callrooms, to which Dr. Legaspi responded by citing plans of renovation in the next two or three years as part of the Php 165 M for facilities and equipment that PGH was set to receive from Malacañang.

The concern about fragmented electronic medical records (EMR) was also brought up during the dialogue. Interns and clerks alike cited the lack of cross-compatibility of the records system of certain departments, DBrain of the Department of Neurosciences, ISIS of Surgery, and Med ISIS of Medicine to name a few. The late updates of labs via OpenMRS of the Department of Laboratories was also brought up. Director Legaspi reassured the clerks and interns that PGH is currently convening with IT experts to develop a uniform EMR system for the whole hospital that is accessible across all departments.

Issues about mental health of the clerks and interns were also discussed, particularly the need for an office that medical students can run to specifically when they are having problems.

“Usually, workload yung problem,” said Intern Rep. Michael Calanog (Class 2017). “Di na nakakapag-usap with other, interns, clerks and classmates. Minsan, ‘di rin agad nagvovolunteer [to open up].”

Director Legaspi admits that there are aspects of this mental health situation that cannot be dealt with by his office at the moment but hinted at the possibility of including the students in the wellness program currently available to PGH employees as a way to release stress.

The meeting with Dr. Legaspi eventually turned out to have stirred up a healthy discussion between the students and the administration. The Director said that his office is always open to the students and UP-PGH personnel alike for concerns in the hospital. The meeting was graced by representatives of the current Medicine Student Council, Learning Unit Presidents and representatives, and former Medicine Student Council Chairpersons.

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