Monday, September 17, 2012

Urgent Prayer Request From a Philippine Hospital

Urgent Prayer Request From a Philippine Hospital
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines


We have an urgent prayer request for a six year old Filipino girl and her parents, who are all Christians, and whose names are withheld to protect their privacy.  Here’s the latest. Both the girl’s lungs and at least one kidney are damaged. I’m not sure if this is related to her having lupus or not since I don’t know much about the disease. She has contracted a cold as well. She has been comatose for the last day or so. Doctors give her a 50-50 chance of survival, which appears to be an improvement over what we all thought last night. She remains in Pediatric ICU at a government hospital in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.

One of the major challenges that she air pump she is on is hand operated—no electric one being available. The pump has to be manned 24/7 by a family member or friend. The hospital does not provide this service. The poor parents alternated every two hours through the night so they didn’t get much sleep. Debbie, who has been at the hospital several times, is pumping right now, and I will lend a hand later.

The husband works on another island and had to make an emergency trip home when he heard the news, but traveling takes time here, meaning that the wife and girl were at the hospital without him for at least 24 hours. We were there last night when the husband arrived. Somehow I managed not to say something dumb like “hey, friend, how are you?” Or worse, “I understand what you’re going through.” I don’t have a clue. I just put my arm around him and walked him to the door of the PICU. He took over the air pump immediately so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him.

Debbie and the wife are good friends, and she works for us from time to time. So far we are processing this ok internally. All the questions about why God is allowing this have run through my mind. Biblical authors and the theologians that follow them haven’t resolved this issue in thousands of years of reflection, so I’m sure I won’t either.  Habakkuk dealt with a similar issue in the Old Testament book that bears his name. In the end, he came to this conclusion: Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (3:18-19 NKVJ).

I thought that those of you not familiar with government run hospitals in a developing nation might like a description, so keep reading. For the most part, private hospitals are better if you can afford it.

The Pediatrics ICU (PICU) is just inside the Pediatrics ward. It’s a small room and only parents or those handling the air pump are allowed inside along with the medical staff.
Shoes must be removed to keep the dust level down.

The Pediatrics ward itself is a large room, crammed full of beds and people and no privacy. The place is clean but hardly sterile. In the Philippines, both in public and private hospitals, each patient needs to have their own caretaker to supplement the nursing staff. The guardian can stay 24/7 but needs to provide their own bed in the public wards. If you want a chair, you bring it with you—unless you are an American brave enough to ask the nurses for one.

Ventilator is poor.

There is one large, unisex bathroom with multiple enclosed stalls—complete with buckets and hand dippers for bathing…but bring your own soap and toilet paper. Dishwashing facilities are provided in the rest room area because you bring your own food (and dishwashing detergent), but there is no cooking onsite. Considering the circumstances, bringing your own food is probably a good idea. 

Medicine has to be purchased by the family before being administered. Cash upfront. No money. No meds. No exceptions. And all medical bills must be settled before leaving the hospital.

Now for the lighter side. Does this hospital treats animals? Last night we saw two mother cats, one of which has a kitten residing in the Pediatrics ward. The kitten was scrawny with unruly hair. It truly looked like it needed to be there! We all had a much needed good chuckle at the sight. Now I have seen everything!

Keep praying. We will keep you posted.


Dave and Debbie

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Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

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