This is a part 2 of my Medical Exam experience in St. Luke’s Extension Clinic, Manila back in 2015. Everything was ok but my x-ray. They scheduled me for a sputum exam, and that means a delay on my visa application.

Sputum exam at St. Luke’s is free if you are applying for a US Visa. They will collect sputum samples for three consecutive days. You have to be there on your scheduled date and time to avoid additional fees. The schedule for sputum collection is between 6 am – 8:30 am and a first come first served basis. They will give you instructions on how to prepare for sputum collection and how to properly collect sputum samples, so you must follow carefully to avoid another delay.

Documents Needed:

  • Sputum Exam Schedule
  • Passport

My 3 Days Sputum CollectionMarch 11-13, 2015

First day: I arrived at 5:30 am and proceed to the left side of the building where monoblocks chair is located. I presented my schedule slip and passport to the guard and he gave me a queue number and a mask to put on before we enter the building.

We entered the building by batch, a staff guided us to the side entrance. We use the separate elevator from other patients who are having a medical exam, it went up directly to the rooftop where sputum collection happens.
At the rooftop, you will have to wait for your turn. They will give you a plastic cup where you will collect your sputum sample. You will first have to gargle and a staff will guide you on which cubicle to go, where you can sit down. You should collect enough sputum sample before they accept it. The procedures are the same on the second and third day.

On the 3rd day, after sputum collection, a staff gave me a schedule for Doctor’s evaluation. It usually takes place one week from the last day of your sputum collection.

Pulmonary Evaluation: Mar. 18, 2015

2nd floor – I gave my schedule slip to the nurse and she told me to wait to be called. Thirty minutes later, the nurse started calling names. She divided us into two lines, A and B. One line is for positive and the other is for negative, but I didn’t know which is which until I talked to the Doctor. I was in line B and thankfully I was negative. The Doctor showed me my x-ray on the computer. She explained why I had to go through sputum exam, there are white spots on my right lung. My 3 smears are all negative but they still need to culture them for 6-8 weeks. She gave me a schedule when I should call for the result.

What to expect?

Positive – Unfortunately, bacteria grows in your sputum sample and you need to start the 6 months treatment. You have to go to St. Lukes every single day to take medications.

Negative – Congratulations, no bacteria grow in your sputum samples, however, they will still need to culture them for 6-8 weeks. The organism that causes tuberculosis may take 6 weeks to grow. If they turn positive before the result is due they will call you and you will have to start the treatment for 6 months. If no bacteria grows, you will be having your immunization when the result is due. The culture is monitored and they will notify you as soon as your sputum sample turns positive.

During that two-month period, I was hoping and praying every day that they would not call. I get paranoid every time my phone rings. I felt so happy and relieved when the result was due and I didn’t receive a call from them. My sputum was due on May 8th, though I was scheduled to call on May 11th. The staff who received my call didn’t tell me the result, she just told me to go back to St. Luke’s on May 14th and bring my passport and 4 pcs. 2×2 photo.

Immunization Day: May 14, 2015

My two months of paranoia and anxiety have finally come to an end. I decided to go to St. Luke’s before 7 am so I could be done early, or that’s what I thought. I was in St. Luke’s for more than 12 hours. I arrived at 7 am and I got my shots at 3:30 pm. I was second to the last patient inside St. Luke’s, but I didn’t care, I’ve already waited for two months so waiting for hours was not a big deal anymore. All I wanted was my medical clearance so I can proceed to the next step. Finally, at 7:30 pm, I got my clearance on hand. The staff gave me my immunization form, cd x-ray, and a slip on how to schedule an interview appointment. My medical result was forwarded to USEM.

Important: Be aware of the expiration date of your medical exam. Medical Exam is valid for 1 year, but if you went through sputum exam it will expire in 6 months. You must have an interview before your medical exam expires, or you will have to repeat the whole medical process (and it means another payment).

Final thoughts:

I hope this could help answer your questions on what to expect on sputum exam and culture at St. Lukes Clinic. This happened in 2015, so I am not sure if the procedures are still the same. Good luck on your Sputum exam! ☺