The Philippines is the New Ultimate Medical Tourism Destination



Slippers and shorts are a standard dress code in Hawaii. As a resident in the Aloha State for more than 30 years, this has become the norm also for me as a German-American.

Wearing slippers, however, can come with unexpected life-threatening dangers, including a flesh-eating bacteria infection.

My story begins in Hawaii with a happy outcome in the Philippines.

I have to thank the outstanding team of the World Travel and Tourism Council and the best hospital I know in the world, the Makati Medical Center in Manila, Philippines, for literally saving my life.

My personal heroes at Makati medical center work under the leadership of:

  1. Dr. Caoili, Janice Campos, Infectious Disease
  2. Dr. Paul Lapitan, Cardiologist
  3. Dr. Victor Gisbert, Surgeon

I honestly think I would have been in bad shape if I would have relied on my doctors in my home state of Hawaii. Attending the WTTC Summit in Manila unexpectedly contributed to my health and I hope to the quality of my future life in a big way- and here is why.

This was medical tourism made in the Philippines in action

It all started on Friday, April 15, 2022. I got my second COVID booster shot before leaving Honolulu for the WTTC Summit in Manila. On Saturday, April 16, I went to get a simple pedicure at Ala Moana Shopping Center across from my home apartment in Honolulu. The pedicure went fine except for a tiny little cut that started growing into a monster.

On Sunday, April 17, I flew on United Airlines to Guam, changed planes, and arrived Monday night (April 18) in Manila. I transferred to my hotel, the Grand Hyatt.

After a good night’s sleep, I woke up in the morning with chills, a fever, and an infected red leg. Thinking this will heal itself, I made it to a Watson pharmacy to get some aspirin. That did bring my temperature down. I got a COVID test and it came back negative. On Wednesday, I transferred to the venue hotel of the WTTC Summit, the Marriott Manila. I got dressed for the WTTC Summit welcome dinner but decided to skip it after all. The pain in my left leg took over.

In the morning, I ran into Gerald Lawless in the elevator and told him about my leg. He urged me to get it checked at the medical office in the hotel. The medical office was run by the Philippine Coast Guard.

I went to the office, and it took 2 hours of convincing me and discussing it back and forth before I decided to get my leg checked at the hospital. The doctor on call for the WTTC event called a Coast Guard ambulance, and we drove to the emergency room at Makati Medical Center in Manila.

From there, everything went very fast. I was put into an isolation room to wait for the result of a PCR COVID test. Every 2 hours another test was performed on me. This came together with extensive blood work, tetanus shots, and being put on high doses of antibiotics through an IV.

Luckily my PCR test came back negative on day two, and I was given a choice of 5 room types in the hospital. I selected the large private room. It was large, nicely furnished, and more like a hotel room than a hospital room.

In the meantime, 3 independent teams of doctors performed every test possible. From ultrasound to chest x-rays, blood and stool work – the most comprehensive check-up I ever had.

The result: I was diagnosed with a flesh-eating bacteria in my left leg – a dangerous condition and very rare. The cause most likely was the little cut I got from my pedicure in Honolulu.

To make it even more exciting, two blood clots were detected during an ultrasound procedure in the same leg, preventing me from even thinking about getting on a plane home. I was put on a blood thinner.

The result of all these tests gave me a complete picture of my health. The cardiologist changed the blood pressure cocktail I had been taking for years, and my blood pressure now has never been that good.

The nurses became my good friends. Philippine health workers are known all over the world to serve with passion. I wish I remembered the name of the nurse who looked for a charger cable for my iPhone and brought it to me with a big smile.

Quality service with compassion is what the Mapati Medical Center has set for its goal- and the clinic is delivering on this front.

“We put our hearts into everything we do – live our values by doing what is right for the health and safety of the patients, the well-being of colleagues, and the greater good of MMC,” is in the mission statement on the hospital’s website.

“Makati Medical Center humbly accepted Gawad Bayaning Kalusugan awards from the country’s business and healthcare leaders. Recognitions like these allow us to celebrate the stories of our brave health warriors who continuously risk their lives to save others.”

My lead doctor, an expert in infectious disease, recently won this award.

Makati Medical Center was founded by renowned Filipino doctors and businessmen in 1969.

The story began in the early 1960s when Obstetrician-Gynecologist Constantino P. Manahan, MD, together with surgeon Jose Y. Fores, MD, and cardiologist Mariano M. Alimurung, MD, decided to set up a world-class medical facility in Makati.

At the time, Makati was just beginning to rise as a bustling residential and commercial center. The Ayala conglomerate was still implementing the initial phases of its plan to transform the Manila suburb into the country’s premier business district. The plan required a modern hospital to serve the community.  

To raise funds for the construction, the founders sought doctors and other professionals who shared their dream. They sent an emissary, Atty. Artemio Delfino, to the United States to scout for more investors.

On May 31, 1969, the Makati Medical Center formally opened its doors to the public. For its founders, it marked the fulfillment of a dream and the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice to provide world-class healthcare for Filipinos.

On May 31, 2019, Makati Medical Center celebrated its golden anniversary. The Makati Med community commemorated the founding fathers’ priceless contributions to the hospital’s legacy. A coffee table book entitled “Ginintuan” (Golden) was launched to chronicle the institution’s story and legacy throughout its 50 years of serving the Filipino and global community.

At Makati Med, Malasakit is enshrined in its Quality Policy: “We put our hearts in everything we do – live our values by doing what is right for the health and safety of the patients, the well-being of colleagues, and the greater good of MMC.”

Core Values

Service Excellence

Providing competent, appropriate, safe, and responsive healthcare services that result in positive patient outcomes and the highest level of satisfaction among patients and colleagues.

Integrity

Demonstrating sound, moral, and ethical principles at work; never compromising the name and ethical standards of the hospital.

Professionalism

Upholding the code of conduct of the hospital and ethical standards of one’s profession; consistently demonstrating competence in the performance of one’s duties.

Compassion

Showing genuine concern and empathy through words and actions that lead to enhanced well-being of patients and colleagues.

Teamwork

Collaborating harmoniously and respectfully with the team toward a common goal.

I was released after 5 nights and moved back to the Marriott Hotel Manila. My room was untouched, and it felt like coming home.

I was picked up by Sharlene Batin from the Philippine Department of Tourism, and Verna Covar Buensuceso, the Assistant Secretary for the department.

Maribel Rodriguez, WTTC

Maribel Rodriguez, Senior VP of WTTC checked on me every day.

This experience confirmed tourism is about friendship, human relations, and peace.

Tourism is more than just a business, it’s a business with a soul.

I am recovering now at the Hyatt Regency Manila, City of Dreams, with a long sheet of instructions and medications.

My new friends from the Philippine Tourism Board took me to the opening of the Manila Coffee Festival last night – so much fun, and anyone who knows me understands how much I love coffee.

Juergen Steinmetz & Sharlene Batin, Philippine Dept. of Tourism

Have more first class healthy fun for less in the Philippines !

“It’s a secret to be revealed and in the making to come out and go viral”, Juergen Steinmetz said. “The Philippines will become the number one destination for medical tourism. All the ingredients are here. Excellent world-class doctors and facilities, nurses that keep the standard for high-quality care around the world, and a beautiful country, wonderful beaches, good food, and exciting cities.”

How much was the bill?

This is the unbelievable part. While it cost $3000.00 just to see the inside of a US hospital emergency room, the entire bill includes all tests, doctor fees, a luxury single hospital room for 4 nights, the isolation room, emergency room, all medications, and home care: $5000.00

its-more-fun-in-the-philippines
its-more-fun-in-the-philippines
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