04.20.2015 : This blog may need some revisions. For more information, please call HASH, 09278067339
Over the past years, I have made several assists at the RITM-AIDS RESEARCH GROUP or more popularly known as ARG. And over the past years, I have had some requests for assists that I was not able to attend to because of schedule conflicts. And so I decided to write this one as a simple reference.
DISCLAIMER: Protocols may vary from case to case.
SO YOU RECEIVED YOUR HIV POSITIVE CONFIRMATORY RESULT FROM A PRIVATE CLINIC/SOCIAL HYGIENE CLINIC OR A REFERRAL FORM FROM THE RITM SATELLITE (Now called LOVEYOURSELF HUB) OR ANGLO CLINIC, AND YOU CHOSE RITM AS YOUR TREATMENT HUB.
Make sure you’re at the hospital around 7-730AM latest as you need to go register and settle your “orange card”. It’s your “membership card” or identification card where a code is identified specific to your RITM records. This costs PhP125.00. You will be informed to keep the card in case they ask for it, or keep a record of the orange card number.
UPDATE as of 09/30/2014: RITM has computerized its Orange card processing, as such, Steps are as follows:
Get a queue number (numbers are coded, you will be issued a Lab (C)-XX or “L1, L2..” from the ARG Table (left side of the entrance). You will be asked for the reason for visit and TO PRESENT your referral letter if you came from Anglo or the RITM Satellite Clinic, otherwise, a confirmatory document is required.
Purpose of visit will be among the following reasons:
- Baseline/CD4 (New or Old Patient)
- Derma consult (if you have a Derma issue you want to consult)
- ARV Refill
Retrieve a blank information sheet from the guard, fill out the form
Submit the form to the information counter for encoding and wait for your last name to be called. (This is a central area so you don’t have to worry being associated with ARG when your name is called)
Pay at the Cashier1 – window, left end of the information Counter. Your orange card may not be readily available so if ever, kindly present the receipt to the ARG Clinic. The clinic will shortly receive the orange card from the Information counter.
YOU REACHED THE ARG AND IT’S YOUR FIRST TIME.
The ARG as of this writing is behind the information counter. Wait for your Orange number to be called.
When your orange number is called, proceed to the room and get further instructions inside.
Wait for your number to be called.
SOMEONE CALLS YOUR NUMBER
Say you’re number L-12 and someone calls your number, go to the nurse’s desk where you are given a referral to the laboratory. You will be asked to surrender your “referral form” from the satellite/Anglo clinic or your “confirmatory result” if you came from elsewhere. There will be several forms numbered 1-2-3 to guide you where to go first.
A code will be assigned to you as well, normally in the format of R(year)-(3 letter initial). So if you came in say today, you would be R14-XXX. Your R14 code is your code forever. Take note and remember this code as you will use this code in all your ARG transactions henceforth.
Make sure you surrender your L-number to the nurse before leaving for the laboratory.
Note that your L-number, while waiting for the lab referrals, may be called for vital signs recording. Be Alert.
YOU GOT YOUR LAB REFERRAL FORMS FROM THE ARG NURSE.
Normally, you go to the laboratory first for blood extraction (CD4 & CBC are done as part of your baseline). You will submit the form #1 to the MED TECH table (location changes from time to time), when it’s your turn for blood extraction, they will call you by the code you have (R14-XXX), they may also call you by your nickname on the document so be alert.
Number 2 would be the x-ray. The x-ray window is right beside the laboratory. X-ray results are normally released and brought to the ARG & filed in your folder 7-10 days after the X-ray is done.
Number 3 is the PPD (TB Skin test) which you will claim from the pharmacist. Make sure a nurse (at the OPD room #4) is available to inject your PPD before you claim the PPD (given to you in a syringe) at the Consultation room beside the Cashier. As this is temperature sensitive, it is advisable to have this injected the soonest time possible after receiving the PPD/Syringe.
YOU RECEIVED THE PPD AND YOU PROCEEDED TO THE CONSULTATION ROOM.
The PPD will be injected to you. Note that it is strongly advised to bring a mask when in the hospital facilities, you may also pay at the cashier (PhP10.00) & claim the mask from the same counter where you retrieved an information sheet earlier. They may also take your Vital Signs as part of your records/baseline.
Together with your PPD form is a small sheet of paper which you will need to be accomplished after 48 hours of PPD administration. You may have your skin test checked by any doctor (any clinic, heath center, doctor friend). If your skin test turned out to be positive, kindly contact the ARG Hotline to check for your next steps.
During vital signs, feel free to ask the nurse what time should you come back for the consultation/CD4 result & where you should wait. The consult will be with an INFECTION DISEASE MD who will give you your:
- CD4 results
- Next steps
- Answers to whatever questions you may have about your condition
YOU’RE DONE WITH PPD AND VITAL SIGNS
Please retrieve a Consult (C) number from the main entrance ARG Table [the nurse will tell you if you need to get one].
You may have a few hours to spare. You can have lunch or wait at the corridor. Relax. A cafeteria is nearby should you choose to have lunch. Festival mall is relatively near if you choose to go to the mall and have lunch– depending on how much time you have to spare.
CD4 IS READY AND YOUR NUMBER IS CALLED AT THE CONSULTATION or OPD ROOM
While waiting for the CD4 (L numbers), L-numbers, as mentioned above, are normally called either for Vital Signs or for Interview with the Doctor.
Once CD4 is out, your Consult (C) number will be called, Go into the consultation room and see your I.D. doctor. He/She will give you your CD4 results and discuss basic lab results available at the time. Your doctor will also assess if you will need your ARV at this point and will advise you accordingly. This is the best time to ask the doctor about commonly asked concerns like:
- Taking of multivitamins, supplements & whey proteins,
- Certain physical/sports activities you may previously have
- Other medical questions you may have
Your I.D. may also give you “maintenance” meds as he or she deems necessary– depending on your health condition and lab results. Ask your doctor if any (or all) of the prescribed meds are available at the pharmacy for free. Some prophylaxis meds are free like Isoniazid.
Note that sometimes your L-number is retained and you get your CD4 results from the Nurse, especially since you will be coming back the week after for the X-ray & CD4.
THE I.D. SAID YOU SHOULD HAVE ARV BUT YOU WEREN’T GIVEN ANY
This is because they will wait for the X-ray results which normally come out 7-10 days thereafter.
Yes, you will need to come back when the results are available to finally get your Meds.
WHAT ARE THE ARG HOTLINE NUMBERS?
Click here for the most recent HOTLINE UPDATES: CLICK
YOU’RE DONE WITH THE I.D. CONSULT. WHAT TO DO NEXT?
You’ve accomplished a big step in your positive management of HIV.
- Go home and relax
- Take a break
- Note your next schedule
- Record the ARG Hotline number(s)
- Stay optimistic
So there, again these are the basic steps when you first visit the ARG. Steps may vary according to your condition like:
- Presence of Opportunistic infections
- Necessity to see a Dermatologist
- Personal/Work schedule conflict where a patient opts to come back for the CD4 results/consultation on a different day
I will try to update this article as needed. Kindly leave a comment if there’s anything I should update.