Monthly Archives: February 2014

Living, Learning, Earning and Leaving


helping the sick get better.. that’s my job

“One day I’ll be missing this place”

I read these words from a former staff nurse as a comment to a picture of the hospital where I am both a visiting consultant and a volunteer doctor. And I can’t blame them really, with the economic turmoil and the harsh reality of the nursing profession. Sometimes I myself am asked why I continue to stay despite the difficulties of medical practice and I tell them the story of one patient in particular who helped me place things in perspective.

I went to see this particular patient because she was referred to me for cardiopulmonary risk evaluation prior to a planned open cholecystectomy procedure, nothing out of the ordinary at first but when I looked briefly at her chart, I noted that she came from a far off town, at least two to three hours away. I confirmed this with the patient when I did my rounds and she told me that they even had to take a boat as part of the commute. I recall being to that town before on a medical mission at a friend’s invitation, so I know that it’s really a long way. When I asked how come they happened to be admitted at this particular hospital, she told me, and this would not be the first time, that her National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth) payments were not up to date and hence, were not eligible for the program.

But the patient continued with her story and told me that she was not looking for a free accommodation and hospital services but rather, where the rates were lower, at least in more affordable compared to the private hospital where she first sought consult and later upon knowing the amount she had to pay, just opted to go back home despite the pain and discomfort she was feeling at that time, simply because she could not afford it. She tells me she has some money with her, but not enough she reckons for the expenses after the surgery; so that is why she will be asking for financial aid from the local politicians, a common practice I observed. She does not want to be begging for alms, but what can she do? She really wants to get well, to be relieved of the pain and suffering she told me. I finished my examination and promised her to help her in the best way that I could medically. I excused myself to make notes and place my written evaluation. The medical assessment would be the easy part; it’s all based on objective and sound scientific and medical data that’s readily available. It’s the human aspect of the healing process that’s a little tricky. The part where our mentors would say the art of medicine comes in, making that human connection and not just treating the patient as a compilation of lab results and imaging studies. In a way I’m thankful that she chose to go to this quaint hospital where it may be a little out of the way, not have the most advanced equipment, and sometimes where things just don’t go the way we plan them to be; but its doors are always open to those who seek medical aid, regardless of creed, race or stature in life. Likewise, the doctors who choose to serve here are more than willing to help out, despite the hurdles and insurmountable odds they have to face. And maybe that’s one of the reasons I choose to stay, because more than just a job, it’s a calling if you may, where I can practice my profession and give back something in return. Besides, here I can be an agent of change and there will always be something new to learn; mostly in the practice of medicine and sometimes, life in general.

In the words of the Blessed Mother Teresa: “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are – in your own home and in your own families, in your work places and in your schools.. You can find Calcutta all over the world if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society – completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

This article uploaded in response to today’s daily prompt


Hearts, Doctors, Love


lub dup.. lub dup..

Out of breath? Palpitations? Skip beats? It could be signs of heart problems.. That or you could just be in love. Either way, have a date with your doctor today and find out. Happy Healthy Hearts’ Day everyone!

accomplishing the mission


touching lives.. giving hope

It has been exactly a year ago when the small community hospital who has been in existence for just a little over two years was visited and became the base of operations of Dr. Cathy Panlilio-Arzadon’s team of dedicated medical professionals.

To most of these people, having the surgical procedure done was life changing, as they would not have had any other means to do so.

I didn’t mind playing second fiddle, working in the background and making sure that prior to surgery a medical cardiopulmonary evaluation was done and when the surgical team did their part, patient care did not end when they were wheeled from the recovery room and later discharged from the hospital as they still had lifelong illnesses and other ailments to be taken care of, long after the surgical team have taken flight, their generosity and unselfish services needed elsewhere. And all this done, free of charge and at no expense to the patients.

In hindsight, what they did were more than just mere dole outs, as what usually happens when people do medical missions just for show. 

To borrow the words of Dr. Cathy, who I believe is currently somewhere in Sorsogon doing the same thing all over again:

Our group was created in 2000 and it’s first medical mission was in Guagua, Pampanga in 2001. We have since been to towns in Zambales, Batangas, Tarlac, Bulacan, Romblon, Palawan and Pampanga.

We bring a team of 60 medical and non-medical volunteers, we pay for our own hotel, air fare and food. All funds collected are used to purchase medications and supplies in the Philippines; shipping donated surgical supplies from the USA to the Philippines; purchasing, upgrading and maintaining our medical equipment and instruments stored in our bodega in Pampanga.

We provide FREE services in the following specialties: general surgery, plastic surgery (Cleft lip/palate repairs), minor surgery, dental (extractions, cleanings, fillings), optometry (eye exams, eye glasses), health & wellness classes and rehab services; pharmacy.

We are working within a very meager 20-30K USD budget. Every year we aim to raise 50K so we can purchase additional instruments and medical equipment to make our group fully equipped for our surgeries and dental procedures but sometimes we do not reach the 50K goal and yet still manage to serve 1,500 to 2,000 patients in spite of the low budget.

We go to a hospital equipped with our own anesthesia machines, monitors, suction and cautery machines; we have dental chairs and dental units which enable us to perform procedures without having to rely on hospital equipment which are oftentimes old and unreliable.

Our website, although not that up to date (not to make excuses but all our admin staff and officers are volunteers, have full time jobs and do what they can to keep MMOM running) has photos and information about our group, please visit it if you can

We are a 501 c 3 organization comprised of kindhearted volunteers who take 7-14 days off from their busy lives to work for free…to help strangers from another land who have needs far greater than our own.
Our volunteers do the trek over and over again in the hopes of changing someone’s health therefore impacting them as a person, their family and ultimately their community. How cool is that?

Whatever help you may send our way will be greatly appreciated…prayers,well wishes, your time, talent or financial assistance has a place in the deliverance of much needed help to our kababayans…

It doesn’t take much to effect change in this world. Much like as a butterfly takes flight can cause hurricanes somewhere else in the world, these small ripples of change will somehow impact the lives of countless others.

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