Resort medicine
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2019 - 12:00am

I was told of the story of a balikbayan doctor who visited Boracay a year or so ago and who wanted to make sure there is an adequate medical facility there in case of an emergency. He asked and was told there are four places he could go to.

So he hired a tricycle and visited the first place. It didn’t have an ECG machine, the most basic for cardiac emergencies. The second place had an ECG machine, but no paper. None had the trained personnel who knew what do if a heart attack victim was brought there,  nor did they have the drugs needed in such emergencies.

He gave up and didn’t bother checking out the other two. He was appalled that the country’s major resort that hosts over two million visitors a year didn’t have a medical facility able to take in emergencies.

He was just looking for a stabilization center for a heart attack or stroke victim because the first hour or so is critical. How many Boracay visitors have unnecessarily died because the island didn’t have the means to handle medical emergencies? One a week? Two?

Indeed, another doctor commented that if you are looking for a beach holiday and you are of a certain age, you are better off going to Phuket. He said he checked it out. In an emergency, an ambulance will arrive in five minutes – bring you to one of six full ser-vice hospitals within 15 minutes travel from Phuket’s main beach areas.

Or go to Kota Kinabalu. I am told there is a world class hospital there now that can save your life in an emergency.

It isn’t just old people and heart attacks. A recent case in Boracay was a young patient with febrile convulsions – no trained physician and no resources to handle the problem – a lot of bureaucratic red tape to transfer the patient to an adequate center.

If Boracay is a problem, forget the other tourist areas. Karen Davila desperately looked for a medical facility to handle the wounds suffered by her son in an accident in Siargao.

Bohol should be gearing up now. The new airport and many new resorts will bring in more visitors. Coron not only needs an adequate medical facility there, it also has to be cleaned up like Boracay.

Then there is this story about a Japanese retirement community in Cavite that was a thriving success until two of the retirees suffered heart attacks and died. Again, there was nowhere nearby to bring such patients in an emergency.

What were the developers of the community thinking? It is a retirement community and will be populated by old folks. We all know old folks need a lot of medical attention and are prone to medical emergencies.

Having a facility that will stabilize a patient for transport to a bigger hospital should have been part of the design. The seniors were happy to frolic in the sun and play endless rounds of golf, but they also want to live longer. So they left.

Let us not go too far. How many people have died in a posh resort like Tagaytay Highlands also for lack of a stabilization facility?

Sure, the patient will have to be airlifted to the nearest hospital with trained staff and adequate facilities. That will likely be Asian Hospital in Alabang or the La Salle Hospital in Cavite. But the patient has to be stabilized first.

As for Batanes… I guess that’s it. Like any rural area in this country, medical facilities there are probably less than adequate. And this brings me to another point… the medical needs of tourists and our locals need to be attended somehow.

I am not sure DOH has sufficient budgets for such facilities and they should be given. It isn’t just the cost of the building and equipment, but also for the trained medical manpower to be assigned there.

It shouldn’t be difficult getting volunteers to staff a medical emergency facility in Boracay, Siargao and Batanes. Such facilities could be made double purpose: serve the needs of tourists and that of the locals.

For Boracay, maybe Ramon Ang could be convinced to put up a medical facility with capability to stabilize heart attack and stroke victims. He plans to put up a convention center on the Caticlan side near the airport built and managed by San Miguel.

Having an emergency medical facility is a strong selling point for large conventions. Such a facility can be given tax perks under Tieza.

To complete the service, arrangements can also be made with a helicopter airlift service to facilitate a patient’s transfer to a tertiary hospital. I heard the airlift company that handled a recent emergency in Boracay demanded P25k cash in advance.

Putting up resorts and tourism facilities isn’t just about having great beaches or mountain views. We have to take care of the health needs of our visitors because we never know when those will be needed to save a life.

That life could very well be ours.

 Love in the time of Influenza

Someone sent me this Valentine poem last week.

I will seek and I will find you.

I shall take you to bed, and have my way with you.

I will make you ache, shake and sweat until you moan and groan.

I will make you beg for mercy, beg for me to stop.

I will exhaust you to the point that you will be relieved when I’m finished with you.

And, when I am finished, you will be weak for days.

All my love,

The Flu

Now, clean up your dirty mind and go get your flu shot!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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