THIS is about the district hospital in my hometown, Balamban.

Actually, I initially felt proud that a hospital has emerged to serve the medical needs of the people. When I was a kid and got sick, my mother would just go to a local healer who would come to our house and prescribe native cures.

One of his favorites was a root of an herb that he would give my mother to boil, with the water left to cool in glasses for later use. Somehow, I got cured of my fever.

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But when we were small children, mother herself had her mixture of different kinds of powder and grass stems—seven stems from the busikad grass; powder from a deer horn, the bone of a duyong and the tail of a pagi; and remolleno roots.

Many years later, I laugh when I recall those names, and wonder how and who formulated the mix. But in those days, people appeared to have full confidence in native cures that were passed down to them by their forebears.

But back to our district hospital. Complaints from patients against the facility’s alleged inadequate service have been many. And then one of my grandnieces landed in the hospital last week for supposed dengue infection. When her fever and vomiting persisted, she was suspected to have typhoid instead.

But she was released yesterday. She got well despite the inadequate facilities and personnel.

I dropped by at the hospital and talked with a Dr. Zaldy Climaco. It seems that there are only two of them employed by the government, three including the hospital director, a Doctor Gonzales. Two other doctors are contractual and private, provided for by the province.

The hospital has an average of 130 to 150 patients a day, divided among drop-ins for consultation, emergency patients, and wards admissions. Each doctor is supposed to serve only for eight hours a day. But the four hospital physicians had to work two days for 24 hours. They have no shifting.

They have nurses who spread out themselves too thin to attend to the patients who often demand more attention from them.

Some patients I know heap their complaints against the hospital staff on my shoulders, but after learning the real state of the hospital, I cannot help being a hospital apologist.

I believe our hospital’s plight is typical in the entire province.