I took an RT-PCR swab test for COVID19 in St. Luke’s Global City in November because I traveled overseas recently. There are plenty of clinics and hospitals providing RT-PCR tests, many of them even offering home testing, but I chose St. Luke’s mainly because it is one of the recognized facilities of the airline I bought my ticket from and their service record has been very exemplary despite the initial impression of their cost.
Most of the planning related to my trip was made so close to my travel date due to administrative matters. Knowing that a negative test result is an airline requirement upon checkin, I booked and paid for the test barely 10 days before my departure. Let me share the steps I took:
- Create a St. Luke’s eHub account.
This is a one-stop location to schedule your test (not just for PCR but all other lab services), pay for it, check your results, and view your medical records without going to the hospital, either in BGC or in QC. It could take 10 minutes completing an account but once done, the rest comes easy.
Since the airline requires a test result no more than 48 hours old, I chose a swabbing date two days before my departure. The standard turnaround time for the result is 24-72 hours but some posts from people who took it said theirs took only 24 hours or even less. When you book, you can choose drive-thru or walk-in; I chose the latter. The test costs Php4,300. St. Luke’s will send you a receipt and procedure instructions via email after successfully paying for the test.
3. Appear on the chosen date and time, and brace yourself (LOL)
I chose a testing time at lunch since I went during my own lunch break. Upon arrival, I was asked to proceed to the outpatient section to verify my appointment and complete a form. I had to triple check my complete name and passport number since they will appear on the medical certificate.
Not even five minutes later I was ushered to the testing area. I have not had a swab test for COVID before, thank heavens, and I’m telling you, no amount of videos could prepare you for the real thing. The test was comprised of three swabs – one on your throat and both your nostrils. The one on my throat was fine though they did warn about gagging. The one on the nostrils was the crazier experience. The nurse inserted the long swab in one nostril, counted to 10, and pulled it out, then did the same to other nostril without a chance to recover from the first one. It was not that it’s painful; it was not, but you know that extremely uncomfortable feeling of an unexpected invasion inside you??? The act of inserting was jarring enough but it’s the pulling out of the swab that made me cough. A friend even went as far as saying it’s like having your nostrils raped.
It was normal to get teary and feel that you had to blow your nose. With the latter, the nurse said it’s probably just a sensation and she was right. After that ‘what did just happen’ minute (yes, it was that short), I was told I can leave and monitor my eHub account for the result.
4. Wait for the result and claim a physical copy (if needed).
The next day, after 24 hours, I started the refreshing frenzy on my eHub account to check if the result was in. My apprehension was two-fold; I was leaving the next day and more importantly, what if I tested positive? When my work ended and there was still nothing on the eHub, I decided to go to St. Luke’s in BGC in hopes that when I get there, the result would be in.
If you availed the walk-in swab test as an asymptomatic (meaning you needed the test not because you’re exhibiting symptoms), the medical records section of the hospital won’t have your record. You have to contact the Pathology Department, and that’s where I went to wait for my result.
When I got to the releasing booth in the Pathology Department, I admitted that my eHub still wasn’t showing my result. The personnel wrote down my name and passport number and after 15 minutes went back with two signed and dry-sealed copies of my medical result. I then checked my eHub record and there it was, too. Negative! The reckoning date and time were based on when the result was generated and signed. I had to check again if they captured my complete name and passport number correctly. They were flexible in editing the record right there — someone I know discovered her passport number was incorrect — but it’s better to leave with an accurate data than go back there again even if they are open 24/7.
One more thing – if I was unable to come on the swab test schedule, my payment remains valid for one calendar year and I just need to pick a new schedule. Travel requirements at this time are different than before so I’m happy with the quick turnaround and systematic flow of St. Luke’s. Will definitely consider them again if needed. Although at this time, I’d prefer having no need to take tests and receive medical attention; my nose knows the world is chaotic enough as it is.