Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

A difficult diagnosis: An insider’s look into what ails our hospital

Photo Courtesy of palauhealth.org

“There is a culture of insecurity, incompetence and unprofessionalism ….. which must be addressed. It provides obstacles to our development and ensures that the least qualified persons are in leadership positions which prevent us from ever improving and to keep up with the rest of the developing countries within our region,” expressed a Palauan medical doctor serving outside of Palau of what he sees as problems at the Belau National Hospital.

Responding to recent article from Island Times where Minister of Health Dr. Emais Roberts confirmed that the Belau National Hospital has doctor shortages and attributing as one of the causes of such shortage to the high turn over of contracted foreign doctors, a Palauan doctor who worked previously at the Belau National Hospital for over five years shared his frustrations and views of what is ailing Belau National Hospital, which he says “prevents us from ever improving” and keeping up with the rest of the region.

Sharing his views,  he said “I used to work at MOH so I understand what those foreign doctors, namely Filipinos, are saying. Our Palauan doctors, particularly those trained in Pohnpei, are lazy. They do not want younger doctors who are better trained than they are, to be telling them what to do.”

Additionally he alleged, “MOH is biased when it comes to Filipino doctors. For Dr. Lala, she got a salary of 70K a year and her housing was paid for and her vacation was paid for, unlike the Filipinos who were given an annual salary of 40 to 45K a year and they had to find their own housing.”

“When it comes to the ER, all these Palauan doctors now have assigned themselves a title so all they want to is work less (and less if no ER or calls if possible, particularly on the weekends). They will make Filipino doctors work so they can be ‘on call’ to their respective specialties which they rarely if at all, get called to the hospital because what they usually do when there are emergencies, let’s say in the medical ward at nights, they will rely on the ER doctor to attend to their patients (oh yes). They will never come. I can understand why the ER doctors from PI have a high turnover,” asserted the former MOH employee.

The former employee also added that the internal culture within the hospital protects their own at cost to the patients and others.  “I used to work there so I know how they are. They protect each other. One male doctor (no longer there due to medical reasons..) used to be so rude to patients so there were a lot of complaints from the public. Nothing was done to rectify the problem. The girls (local female doctors) would just approach Dr. Mekoll and complain and scream at him and sometimes fight among themselves over ER scheduling and nothing was done.”

He further alleged that one local doctor was sent to school because he killed a child, (gave too much IV fluid). Another was sued for the death of a woman and her child by the husband and MOH settled court case but that doctor is still working according the former employee.  And another doctor he said, resigned in 2010 due to pending issues with narcotics prescription but was rehired in 2017.

He said, he hopes that the new doctors being trained from Cuba can undergo further training when they return to Palau to ensure that higher level of care is offered at the Belau National Hospital.

“As for now, I have a contract with the Department of Health here and even though the salary and work load and everything is okay, I always want to work at home,” he said of his request not to publish his identity. (By: L.N. Reklai)