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The hassle of securing a health certificate from a community hospital

Even if there are some loosening up of restrictions in response to the spread of COVID-19 in many parts of Metro Manila and the suburbs, some securing of health documents are still required like a travel pass and a health certificate.

Even a swab test among a limited number of excursionists to a suburban spring resort is in order.

I learned this from my cousin Roy Rojas who invited me to the birthday party of her mom Retired Colonel Severina Anacion-Rojas. It was just a small size of guests but according to Roy I still had to undergo a swab test because it was a requisite of the resort somewhere in Antipolo City.

The party would be an overnight one so rigorous health protocols were required to follow government directives about going to a resort, one of the country’s tourism attractions.

According to the son of Col. Rojas, I just have to go to a hospital to get my swab test and he would pay for it. Normally, according to him, a single swab test costs P1,500.00 to P2,000.00.

I conceded but until now I haven’t gone to a health center for the test.

I should have told Roy I already have a travel pass and a health certificate which I secured from the Local Government Unit of San Pedro City in Laguna Province.

I would still coordinate with the Rojases for the night-out party.

Anyway, my getting a travel pass from Pacita 2 Barangay was an easy one. I just had to personally report to the barangay hall and asked where a travel pass was issued. A friendly guy assisted and guided me to the table near a door to fill up a slip request for a pass. As soon as I finished writing the details of my request I was advised to go directly inside the room where there were four women behind a couple of desks connected with each other. I was told to present myself to the receptionist.

As instructed I greeted the ladies and courteously asked how could I procure a travel pass? One lady volunteered and spoke to me.

Para saan po ang travel pass (Why do you need the travel pass for?),” she politely and friendly queried.

May research ako sa probinsiya (I have to conduct a research in the province),” I answered casually.

Saan pong probinsiya (What province is this?),” she followed up.

Sa Quezon, sa Quezon Province (In Quezon Province),” I replied.

Babalik po ba (Would you go back here?),” she inquired?

Oo naman (Of course),” I said smilingly.

Then she wrote down some things in the piece of paper.

After writing, she stood up and went out of the room.

As I waited and after a few while, she was back to her post and handed me a paper, some shaded with pink and light green color. It was the certification of my travel indicating that I wasn’t included in the PUI/PUM/CONFIRMED monitoring lists of the Barangay. PUI meant Person Under Investigation while PUM meant Person Under Monitoring. The pass was signed by the Barangay Chairman and attested by the Barangay Secretary.

I couldn’t leave the office without verifying about the health certificate. “Kung gusto po ninyo na may health certificate kayo, do’n po ninyo ‘yon kukunin sa Amante (If you want to secure a health certificate, you can have it from Amante),” she advised. 

Amante was referred as the public hospital of San Pedro City, the Jose L. Amante Emergency Hospital which is located at Barangay San Antonio.

Pero N-4 po kayo, kahit hindi na kayo kumuha no’n (But you’re classified as N-4 so it’s alright if you don’t secure one anymore),” volunteered another lady staff who recognized me as a working press.

The main receptionist seconded it.

In my mind, I still wanted to be sure of a smooth travel to my town in Lopez in Quezon Province. I said to myself, better to confirm to the rules because there were people who are stubborn and power tripping. To avoid hassles along the way, I would rather have a health certificate. 

I would ride with entertainment writer Dave Rojo who had secured his travel pass and health clearance from the Quezon City Government.

So I proceeded that Friday afternoon to Barangay San Antonio, an almost two kilometer distance from Pacita Complex. I wouldn’t want to take the bus because it was still early. The jeepneys, meanwhile, were scarce so I decided to take on foot to Amante hospital. Happily, it was not hot and it was an exciting walk along the Old National Highway of San Pedro.

To make the long walk and the long story short, I arrived at the Jose L. Amante Emergency Hospital, at the main building only to be directed by the security guard to proceed to the next building a few meters away. “Do’n po sa kulay pink na building (There in the pink building),” pointed the guard.

So walked again I did until I was at the gate which was manned by two guys, one, a security guard in uniform while the other in civilian clothes.

Saan ako puwedeng kumuha ng (Where can I get a) health certificate?” I asked the two sentinels.

Do’n po sa may bangko (There near the chair),” one pointed out. But I also heard the other one said “do’n po sa may mahabang bangko (there where there’s a long bench).”

What I understood was the chair in front of a table which had a plastic divider and a woman behind it so I went straight to that direction.

Saan ako puwedeng kumuha ng (Where can I get a) health certificate?” I inquired the big lady on the desk.

She didn’t speak out at once. It took her sometime to react so I reiterated by question.

It was only then that she gave me a small piece of paper to fill out my name, address, contact number and one short item.

A group of three guys approached the lady so I reacted. Meanwhile, there was an old man standing nearby. “Nauna ako sa kanila, ha (I was ahead of them, huh),” I said.

Ay! Hindi po. Kanina pa po sila. May itinanong lang (Oh! No. They came earlier. They just asked something),” defended the receptionist.

I didn’t say a word because they were right, after all.

Puwede bang makahiram ng ballpen (Can I borrow you pen?)” I requested. 

Ay! Hindi po puwede. Wala po akong gagamitin sa interbyu (Oh! You can’t. I don’t have something to write on in my interview),” she said. 

When I saw an idle pen on the table of a male receptionist beside her I also requested for it. “Ay! Hindi po puwede (Oh! You can’t),” the guy curtly said.

I later thought a public estate with an application bay should have, at least, a pen tied to anything that it wouldn’t be snatched, because of its public use. A public hospital must have allotted budget for ball pens from citizens’ taxes.  

Ang dadamot naman n’yo (How stingy of you),” I retorted.

Hoy (Hey),” called on the lady receptionist to the guards. “Ang dadamot daw namin (We’re described as stingy),” the lady chided.

Ang iikli lang naman ang isusulat dito, sandali lang naman ‘yon (There’s only short items to write here, it won’t take long),” I opined referring to the small spaces in the slip as I showed it to be filled out quickly.  

Right there and then, an old man handed me his pen. So I thanked him.

After I filled up the slip I was advised to enter the doctor’s room.

There were four men ahead of me while the doctor was obviously filling up some things in their medical certificates.

I also learned right there that one medical clearance would cost P150.00.

An old woman obviously on health clearance entered the room.

When it was my turn, I handed in my slip and the doctor wrote down specifics in the paper without examining one not even getting my body temperature. Remember, it was a medical clearance and an objective diagnosis suffices a representation. Instead, he asked how old was I so I said, “sixty six, double six,” at his convenience even if my birthday was written on the piece of paper.

Then a woman in pink uniform just rudely interrupted in by talking to the doctor so I said “miss, mamaya na ‘yan (madam, can you do it later?)” I pleaded.

“You didn’t even say sorry,” I commented. She was deadpan.

Finally, after she was done talking to the doctor, she apologized unsmilingly, though and immediately left. 

Then the doctor asked for the P150.

I handed him a two P100 bills.

May resibo po para sa (Is there a receipt for) accounting and tax?” I asked.

Ano (What?)” the doctor countered obviously annoyed.

Sa iba ka na lang (You can go to someone instead),” he threatened while he was apparently returning my money. He was taking back all my papers. 

So I conceded.

E, doktor ako, e (I am a doctor, am I not?” he said as if saying “what am I a doctor for?).”

He took the P200.00 and gave me a P50.00 change.

I asked Dave and his assistant Annie if they paid P150.00 for the health clearances they got from Quezon City. “Wala kaming bayad, ‘no (We didn’t pay anything!),” they said.

Before I left the compound I went back to the reception and told the receptionists “hindi kayo laging tama (you aren’t always right).”

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