CEBU CITY, Philippines – A group of doctors based in Cebu are offering free online consultation for Cebuanos who want to get checked up without going to the hospital to avoid the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID-19).
Dr. Marlo Vir Cal Batucan, a urologist and uro-oncologist and one of the founding doctors of Sugbo Volunteer Doctors Online, told CDN Digital that as doctors, their duty is to ensure people’s health in the way they can, thus resorting to the use of the Internet as a means of communicating with their patients who have health problems.
“Yeah, it was just an idea that I pitched to Dr. Angelica Rivera Kuizon, a nephrologist because we entertained patients on Facebook, but the problem with doing it individually is that we can’t just look for other specialists when we need to refer patients, so it started with a small network and eventually people volunteered,” he said.
Sugbo Volunteer Doctors Online is the name of their official Facebook page where patients can message to book appointments.
“So far for this operation we have 25. We still have 20 doctors waiting for Batch 2 depending on how this week goes. Many doctors are now volunteering, but it’s not as easy as saying yes and giving them patients. We have to screen each request before we can give an appointment and schedule with a specialist,” he added.
Batucan also told CDN Digital that most of the volunteer doctors have completed telemedicine courses offered by Harvard Medical School.
They have physicians specializing in general medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, general surgery, and sub-specialties like cardiology, pulmonology, and urology, among others.
The group has already been accepting appointments since Sunday, April 5, 2020.
“Appointment booking on the page is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the consultation depending on the volume of consultations of the day and the availability of doctors’ schedules is that we do consultations until 8 p.m. said Batucan.
With more or less 40 volunteer doctors on standby, Batucan always encourages other doctors to help them in their mission.
“One of our goals is to encourage hospitals and various medical groups to offer telemedicine. We always hope that there will be a better platform for us so that we can meet the needs of more patients. We also encourage other physicians to get organized. we will be happy to show them how to do it so that we can accommodate more patients,” he said.
So, for all Cebuanos who would like to get checked out by a doctor, check out the Sugbo Volunteer Doctors Online Facebook page and book an appointment now. /bmjo
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