Rules of Engagement

Me and my sister Annie made a quick trip to Cebu yesterday. We left early Monday morning and I flew back to Manila on the last flight out of Cebu on the same day. But my sister stayed to finish what we went there for.

I went there for a meeting with my sick brother’s 2 Doctors.

Please allow me to rant.

It’s my first time to deal with Doctors in Cebu. I don’t know the rule of communication between Doctors and the patient’s family in Cebu. If ever there is one.

What I know is how it is here in Manila. I can call my Doctors anytime. I call Doctor Celdran (my kids pediatrician) anytime of the day (even if he’s playing golf). I call Dra. Cristina Antonio anytime (even on week ends). I call Dr. Gerard Henson anytime. I call Dr. Paolo Lorenzo anytime. I call Dr. Erwin Wensceslao anytime.

In short I have the cellphone numbers of all my doctors.

The 2 Doctors of my brother refused to give me their numbers.

They knew I am base in Manila and I was flying in and I needed to talk to them.

My brother is single and my parents are already old to take care of him. I am my brother’s oldest sibling in the country. Our eldest sibling lives in America. So, I have to be the one to handle everything.

So, I flew in and expected to meet one of the Doctors before 10:00am and the other Doctor after lunch. I arrived in the hospital at 8:00 am and wanted to eat breakfast because me and my sister haven’t eaten yet and we were both hungry. So, my dad brought us to the nearest place we can have breakfast and that was Jollibee. We got to Jollibee around 8:30 and waited because that branch opens at 9:00am.

After breakfast we went back to the hospital but unluckily, we missed the Doctor. We went to the nurses station to asked if the Doctor was still inside the building and to let her know that we are back already. But the nurses said she has left. I asked if I can call her and asked for her number. They won’t give it to me. They said they have to asked permission first. Of course I understand that and I said yes please. It took them a long time to go to my brothers room to give me the Doctors clinic number. We called that number they gave me but it was a wrong number. It was not even a clinic. So, I went back to the nurses station to tell them that it was a wrong number.

To cut the long story short I was able to get hold of the Doctor after an hour and a half. Not even thru my phone. I spoke to the Doctor thru the phone of the General Consultant that was on duty. She went to my brothers room and told me the Doctor was on the line and ready to talk to me.

We had a long discussion about my brother’s condition.

Okay, one Doctor down.

The second Doctor normally makes her rounds in the afternoon. But my Mom said that she usually drops by my brother’s room late at night. The second Doctor also knew that I was flying in that day and I needed to talk to her.

Around 4:00pm one of the nurses asked for my cellphone number because according to the second Doctor she will just call me.

Okay. Fine.

By the time I left for the airport she still hasn’t called me. So, I told my sister that if ever she makes her rounds to call me so I can talk to her.

When I was in the airport already and was waiting for my flight my sister kept on texting me and asking me if the second doctor called already and I said no.

My flight got delayed last night. My 9:35pm flight was delayed for 2 hours. It got moved to 11:30pm. Past 10:00pm my phone rang and it was my sister. So, I picked up the call. My sister said that the second Doctor was already there.

I talked to her and had a long discussion with her. After wrapping up our ‘phone meeting’ I told her that I was already in the airport and I was on my way back to Manila and I asked her if I can have her phone number. For emergency purposes.

She told me that the rule in Cebu is that they don’t give out their numbers. If ever I need to talk to her I have to go to her clinic. I said I am base in Manila. How can I go to your clinic just like that?

Sorry, but we never give out our numbers.

I told her I don’t understand, in Manila I can call my Doctors. Why is it different here? She didn’t want to believe me that I can call my Doctors. You better believe me because I can call my Doctors.

I said I call the pediatrician of my kids anytime of the night. And she goes, oh, that’s different because he’s dealing with children.

So, I freaked out. What about you? We are dealing here with a dying patient! For crying out loud. And you don’t want to give me your number? What’s the deal here? I am base in Manila and I cannot just go to your clinic just to ask you questions.

And she goes, I am really sorry but I cannot give you my number. That’s the rule here.

I was tired. I was stressed. I was emotionally drained.

And I refused to deal with this heartless Doctor.

End of rant.

I am tired. I am stress. And I am emotionally drained.

As of the moment.


  • Hi tina,my first time to comment though ive been following ur blog for several yrs already. Im based n cebu, btw. who is this heartless doctor? so my family and i wont be wasting our time with him/her just in case,God forbid! thanks!

    • Hi, January,
      Thanks. I don’t want to name names anymore and I don’t want to play the blame game. We are more focused on our priorities now and knowing what’s best for him.

      Thanks again!

  • Hello Ms.T – Hang-in there… With your connections, I suggest you talk to the hospital’s chief administrator and really find-out what the policy is. Maybe the doctors do not even know what hospital rules are. Anyway, I will add your brother to my daily prayers and hope he gets better soon.

    Do take care of yourself as well… your family needs you at this time so be strong physically, emotionally and mentally for them. You have a very strong support group… we are here for you Ms.T! God Bless!!!

    • Hi, Epalang,

      Thanks so much. He needs all the prayers. We discharged him today. Waiting game begins 😦

      Thanks for the moral support.

  • I’m from cebu. My doctors offer me their personal numbers. And just last year, the surgeon gave me his number and told him to contact him if there’s anything important.

  • Hi, I’m here in MNL and this is what I know but not based any rule or policy. Just based it on what my dad told me when he was still alive. (and because we are suki sa ospital )

    Doctors don’t really have to give their personal number or home number. They have the clinic/hospital number and another one with their assistant. They have assigned fellows or residents that contact them on behalf of the patient’s issues or concerns. On the other hand, like you, we have the mobile numbers and back then even the home numbers. I think this is because they like my dad and have been with him for quite some time.

    So I believe Manila and Cebu doctors are no different. It’s just that you already have good relationship with your doctors that they don’t mind being contacted even on their personal time. 🙂

  • I don’t think there are really any rules about giving one’s contact numbers to anybody, be he/she a doctor or not. It was probably just a personal rule of that doctor. And the “rule” is not even territorial. I am from Cebu, based in Cebu. My doctors do not have such “rules” about not giving their contact numbers.

    I wish your brother well.

    • I think it’s really a case to case basis. It was their first time to handle my brother and they really didn’t know us. But even then they know the condition of my brother and knowing they were dealing with my old parents who cannot comprehend fully anymore they would at least talk to the nearest relative that can. Right?
      It’s really frustrating.

  • Dear little brother of madame T,
    Pagaling ka po anuman po ang iyong karamdaman.
    At sa 2 doctor inaanyayahan namin kayo dito sa maynila ng malaman niyo na off ang ginagawa niyo bilang mangagamot.
    Anyway madame. Prayers for you and your family. Hawak-kamay.

  • Hi Tina. Same here in Vietnam. Our doctors never give their number. But their clinic/secretaries are very efficient. And they do call back when they say so. I guess it depends talaga on your relationship with your doctors.

    I will include your brother in my prayers. Hang in there!

  • Hi Ms Tina, I guess it’s not the rule of a particular place, I think it’s just the personal rule of each doctor. I’m from Bicol and I have the numbers of my mom’s and son’s doctors as well. Can call them anytime too. They don’t mind at all. The patient’s concern is their top priority all the time. Hoping for your brother’s complete recovery..

    • Hi kiks
      I know. They should have at least gave me a number where to reach them. My brothers illnesses (take note of the ses of illness) are all serious. My brother is in a very bad shape. They’re telling my mom all these illnesses and half of what they told my mom, my mom could not comprehend well. Shouldn’t they look for the next of kin who can understand everything better?
      That’s the reason why my sister and me flew to Cebu cos we could not understand how our mom explained everything to us.
      They were hard to look for while I was in Cebu. I know they have a lot of patients but they could have at least gave my brother the priority for that day. Considering the situation and considering his condition. That was all I wanted from them.

      • I truly understand where you’re coming from. My mom has just been out of the hospital with what seems to be a mild stroke but turned out to be Bells Palsy. Her doctors are trying to explain things to her but because of her age and condition, it’s better if there is someone with her who can help her comprehend what’s happening. And in her case that’s me and my siblings. But unlike your brother’s case, my mom’s doctors are so accommodating and they will repeat explanations again and again if there is a need for it.

        What I don’t understand is why a little consideration in your case is too hard to give. Even personal rules can be broken at times when situation calls for it. And it’s not like you are going to call them for petty questions anyway. What part of “for emergency purpose” is too hard to comprehend? It is life at stake here and I just hoped they should have been a little bit considerate.

  • Hi tina, im a doctor from cebu. We don’t really give our phone number to all our patients. Its really on case to case basis when we have good relationship with our patients or for emergency use. Get well soon to your brother. God bless your family tina.

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