A watcher in the hospital!

Learn Bisaya/Cebuano

You guys probably wonder why do you need watcher at the hospital here since the nurse will be there anyway. Well let me tell you about being hospitalized here in the Philippines. You can have as many watchers as you want during day time as long as it doesn’t bother the patient, I think its allowed if you are only staying in the private rooms & suite rooms. I’m sure it’s different when staying at the ward room with 3 – 6 beds in one room. They limit the watcher there then for just one person during night time since they don’t have space to sleep for that many people. But I think you can accept few visitors during visiting hours.

Typical scene in Philippine Hospital where there are people watching over the patient

Typical scene in Philippine Hospital where there are people watching over the patient

When Bob was hospitalized for 4 days. I was pretty much his watcher 24/7. I’m sure you guys were asking what’s my role as a watcher? Well for one, whenever the doctor prescribed medicine to Bob that’s needed, if the medicine prescribed were not available in the pharmacy downstairs, me being his watcher it’s my job to go out and buy necessary medicine at the drugstore outside the hospital building. The nurses are not allowed to go out and buy the medicine for the patients, so it is really needed to have a watcher for every patient here.

With Bob, I was pretty much his arms and hands. Why I said that, he can’t really move any of his arm and hand. It swelled so much  that he can’t even get a grip of the glass or utensils using his hands. So basically, every time he needs to eat or drink I had to give it to him. Some medicine that he was taking orally I had to be the one putting on his mouth. He was immobile for a few weeks. Luckily the kids were the watchers during daytime at the hospital and the house.

Nurses are not the only helpers in Philippine Hospitals

Nurses are not the only helpers in Philippine Hospitals

Really the watcher has to communicate well with the nurses and the doctor. Basically the watcher will be the one who pays attention to what medicine needs to be taken care of and what time. The watcher is the one in-charge of everything down to making inside of the room clean. Whenever the patient needs assistance from the nurse or hospital staff, the watcher will be the person that would go to the nurse’s station and tell them what the patient needs. During night time the patient might need assistance in going to the bathroom, the patients wants to eat or something. So the watcher will always be ready to help out physically and emotionally to the patient. In short the watcher is the beck and call. LOL

The private room where Bob stayed had no button to push for calling the nurses station. So me being the watcher, I’m responsible for going to the nurses station whenever Bob had some emergency in our room. I am not sure if the suite rooms in that hospital has the automatic push button on the bed to call for the nurses station. If I remember when Bob was in Doctor’s hospital in Gensan before, I think their beds there at the private room had button to push in-case you need assistance from the nurses. Bob was at the ICU in Gensan for a week. Supposed to be no watcher was allowed inside, but they made an exception for me because Bob didn’t want to be inside that room if I’m not there inside the room with him. Really only the nurse was the watcher in the ICU. I saw the watchers at the ICU here in Davao at the Adventist hospital where Bob stayed. They had special rooms for the watchers.

I experienced being in the hospital in the States a few times. When I gave birth to my kids  and I was once hospitalized due to I was contracted with a bad virus and being pregnant with my youngest it was difficult. When giving birth to my eldest, Bob was with me the whole time. I stayed in the hospital for a day and a half. When giving birth to our second son, Bob was my watcher there until our son was born, then later in the evening he had to get our eldest son who was staying with our best friend there. Bob was with our son that night, then the next day, early morning Bob dropped our eldest son again to our friend so that he would stay with me at the hospital until I was discharged later that day. When I was 6 months pregnant with our youngest I got a bad virus and it almost killed me and my unborn son. I was admitted in the hospital for almost a week. With that being said, Bob stayed with me during the day. So during night time I was alone in the hospital and crying. The thing on that virus it nearly collapsed both my lungs. Bob being my watcher during daytime he knew when to give my medicine for my breathing. He did keep tabs on that. Just like the way I kept tabs on his med now.

Patients in the Philippines are so spoiled of having family nearby to be the watcher. I guess thank God for the close family ties here. Praying for good health to everyone.  God bless!!!

Post Author: Feyma (316 Posts)

Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.


  1. john says

    i hope bob gets better soon when i get to the philippines i think i will marry an nurse they look pretty hot in their outfits lol. no really i have some heath issues and i forget to take my meds sometimes so who better to have for an wife then an nurse and if she wanted to move to the states nurses are always in demand because of the aging baby boomers

    • says

      Hi John – Bob is better now, thank God for that. Ha ha ha, you better hurry the nurses goes abroad mostly now.

      ***so who better to have for an wife then an nurse and if she wanted to move to the states nurses are always in demand because of the aging baby boomers***—- Be careful what you wish for.

      Good luck to you!

    • AJ UK says

      Makes me appreciate how good the system is in the UK and USA even though we moan about it. Funny thing is that there is an increasing number of Filipino nurses in the UK mainly because of their care and hard work.

      I think a lot of the difference is the way the hospitals are run here i.e. no drug stocks and basic materials etc. but I’m sure they have their reasons.

      When my wife’s niece broke her arm recently we were instructed by one hospital to go and buy the wadding and plaster and come back the next day. The place we were instructed to go to for the supplies was another hospital, MDMRC hospital, so we took the girl there and they did it on the spot. Unfortunately we wasted two days at the first hospital but now we are wiser and know where to go in future.

      I had cause to visit the MDMRC hospital this week myself with a bad case of conjunctivitis. I was in to see a doctor and out with the medication within 20 minutes!

      • says

        Hi AJ UK – A lot of nurses works abroad because they pay good there. I’ve heard a lot of nurses wanted to work here in the PI to be near the family, but they’re not earning good wages.

        Regarding your niece, did you guys went to the government hospital? There it will take forever to get help as I’ve heard from people. Good thing you found another hospital for your niece.

        Always good to see you here. Thanks for the comment!

    • says

      HI Mark Collister – Similar to that. Only thing the nursing aide can do more of what the nurses do like injecting.

      Good to see you here. Have a pleasant day!

  2. Tito Joe says

    I have often wondered what would happen if a person did not have access to a watcher. Would the nurses then be able to go out and buy meds or do what the watchers are supposed to do?

    As an example, lets say a foreign vistor gets hit by a bus and is all busted up and needs things but since he is a visitor he might not have someone to be the watcher and do all the things that I have seen done, and that you describe. I know in many cases its YOYO in the Philippines (You On Your Own), but I still wonder about this issue and how its handled when there is no watcher at all.

    • says

      Hi Tito Joe – Well, I think the hospital will take care of everything. You will just have to pay more. Being without having family around the nurses might feeling sad for that person. I’m sure the nurses will take care of that person during their duty time.

      Good topic you brought up there Tito Joe. Something for us to think about.

      Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Dirk says

    Inserting article, I thought when I was hospitalized the family was holding vigil because they thought I was going to die and no one wanted to tell me……

    • says

      Thank you Dirk. Glad you’re okay now. I think they’re (your family) just not comfortable talking to you how bad your sickness were.

      Were you sick same time with Bob? Hope that you are doing a 100% now.

      Have a great day. God bless!

  4. says

    Not only that, if you don’t like the Hospital Food, you can have the watchers run out and get some of your favorites ( unless you are on restricted food intake for medical reasons ) .

    • says

      Hi Michael Boo – Thank you so much. The watcher should be the person close to you personally & emotionally. It will be awkward if you will have somebody with you there at the hospital as a watcher and you can’t communicate with.

      Thank you for your comment!

  5. corey says

    No doubt one of the best things about life in the Philippines is the availability of affordable help. I have had a couple of hospital visits and during these visits I have had watchers doing exactly what Feyma outlines in her article. During my stays I also had massages, manicure and pedicures. The point is you can literally have anything you want while in the hospital and I mean literally everything (read between the lines) yes that too. It is like taking your home life with you to the hospital. For me there is no other place in the World I would want to be sick in. Having family and friends taking care of you in addition to the very proactive medical staff is a recipe for successful recovery. I am almost looking forward to my upcoming colonoscopy and overnight stay Kidding!!!!

    • says

      Hi corey – True, to the first sentences there. We’ve stayed in the hospital here a few times and didn’t experience having a manicure and a pedicure. Hmm, you were really are pampered then. Good for you.

      *** Having family and friends taking care of you in addition to the very proactive medical staff is a recipe for successful recovery. *** —- So agree to what you said.

      Good luck on you next hospital visit!

  6. says

    LOL Feyma, your story brought back memories of my overnight hospital stay at the Zambales Provincial Hospital in Iba in May of 2000. Yes, I can relate to the watchers, called “bantays”, as all I did that night was observe close-up a very fascinating Filipino culture that I will always remember. The bantays were more than one to a patient, despite a sign scotched taped to the wall that said, “Isang pasyente, isang bantay” (One patient, one watcher). I was not in a private room, as the private rooms on the upper floor at that time were under construction. I was in a large ward like an auditorium that housed around 25 beds arranged haphazardly to maximize space. I watched the bantays all night, as it was difficult to sleep because of the buzz and activity. They brought with them kalderos of rice and viands, and they basically took care of their relative patient in what I perceived to be first-echelon maintenance, such as applying lotion on the patient. I believe the only time I saw a nurse come into the ward was in the early morning hours to take the patient’s temperature, but since there were at least 3 bantays sleeping on the same bed, she had to wake up all three to find out who the patient was. LOL There were no toilet papers in the CR. Patients had to bring their own beddings, no shampoo, no soap, no toothpaste. What do you expect? It was all for free, but donations were accepted, Thanks for the memories, Feyma!

  7. Murray says

    I spent two nights in a hospital in Angeles City. I had the same infection as Bob. I didn’t have a watcher but I would give one of the security guards my hospital food and he would go and buy me McDonalds. When I left I gave him 1000 peso for looking after me.

  8. says

    Great article! Looks like I’ll be paying more because I won’t have a watcher. I do have a soft spot for Nurses though. It centers around their compassion for helping others.

  9. says

    I think it would be nice to have someone stay with me if I were very ill or incapacitated, like Bob was. On the other hand, if I was fully able, and just in for observation, or to receive intravenous medicines, it’s an opportunity for some peace and quiet, and I’d appreciate being left alone with my iPod and some books and magazines. Someone hanging around all the time would annoy me after a while; I’d prefer visiting times, just with a bell to call the nurse.

  10. Jay says

    Hi Feyma,

    When in the Philippines my wife and I enjoy having watchers too, but not the kind you were talking about. We never had to worry about finding someone to watch our children because there was always family near by willing and able to do so. Part of this is cultural and part of it is economic. A lot of the family has no job or they work at home from the Sari Sari store. In the US almost everybody is busy all the time.

  11. says

    Last year when I was in the hospital here in Gingoog City. I would have been lost without my wife and her family at my side. Kat’s mother’s soup and a little rice and fruit was all that tasted good to me. I love the system here as compared to the system in the US with the Nurse Call system and only a few hrs of visitors. The US nurses are to over worked to do the watchers job properly

  12. says

    Let’s keep it secret folks, the exhaust fan I mention in my article enabled me to sneak an occasional smoke in the CR that was part of my private room. Naughty me, Hey, I was on vacation and wanted to enjoy myself so cut me a little slack on this one please.

  13. Richard says

    Hello folks.
    Just wanted to comment here and tell you all that I appreciate all of the excellent input I am getting from this site..:)
    I am moving to PI next spring and I enjoy the positives and not so positives of useful info from this site.
    Having said that.. my Dad always told me when looking for living situation information always seek the negatives..the positives will reveal themselves..the negatives need to be looked for.
    At any rate..Thank you for this article. One of the things that attracts me so much to Philippines is the family values that seems to have sadly gone by the wayside here in the US.
    Once again thank you for the insights.

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