The news of Mon Tulfo berating a tired Emergency Medicine resident made my blood boil. Nurses were talking about it when I made rounds yesterday, which was how I had learned about the incident. The journalist Tulfo brought a child who sustained minor injuries to the Philippine General Hospital's Emergency Department; the child was assessed at the Triage and was deemed a non-emergent case. The child was therefore not immediately attended to. Mon Tulfo lashed out invectives, and official accounts report that he even showed the physician the middle finger--all these, while the event was recorded illegally through a camera phone. Many issues surface here--patient privacy, physician-shaming, and so on--and if there's one good lesson to come out of this, it is that you never attack people mindlessly just because you're a media personality.
The issue of rendering service equitably comes to the fore. PGH medical personnel are called to serve the ill and dying, and we do so gladly, passionately, with all our hearts and minds and, when tough times come (and they do come often), even our pockets, even if we're discouraged, nay, forbidden to. How can we muster the strength to not spare our money to pay for mechanical ventilation just so our patients can avail of this life-saving intervention? How many times have we acted, not merely as physicians, but as social workers: looking for sources of funds so our patients get better and stronger? To deliver the best medical care to the steady influx of patients, we need to prioritize who needs help the most the soonest. This was the process that the child injured by Mon Tulfo's car went through: an evidence-based, pragmatic, and effective system called the triage. This was the process that Mon Tulfo, in a horrifying display of hysteria triggered by an inordinate supply of self-importance, wanted to bypass.
So this is why the Mon Tulfo incident strikes a chord among my colleagues: it is a mockery of our daily struggles against sickness worsened, and even caused, by poverty. We do not have a shortage of compassion in the hospital, even if our hospital beds overflow with occupants. Mon Tulfo's outburst was a short-sighted, anger-laden, ignorant, uncouth diatribe. It is people like him who make our work harder than it already is.
But we carry on.
But we carry on.