Victas to SD: Medical Examination at St. Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLEC)

Chronicling my experience at the St. Luke's Medical Center (Extension Clinic). The medical examination is a requirement for U.S. immigrant visa applicants here in the Philippines.

Disclaimer: The requirements and process described here are subject to change according to US government policies. The details presented in this blog post apply to my case as a CR1 visa applicant and may be different for the kind of visa you're applying for.

March 22, Day 1

I look at my phome and I could see "2:50 am" on the screen. Not wanting to wake my husband, I dismiss the alarm before it crescendoes, The next time I glance at it, the time reads "3:10 am."

Who wakes up at 3 in the morning to stand in line while it's still dark, get her blood drawn, have a picture of her lungs taken, and strip down to have her lady parts checked? Me. The person intending to immigrate. The person submitting to the United States even before she sets foot there. 3 am thoughts.

My grogginess leads me to prayer. God, please remind me that this is worth it. I could sleep in for just a few more minutes, but we both know that the sun will be up by the time I get up and I would regret delaying. Make me feel excited for this day even if it will be a long one.

God heard and I was infused with energy despite very little sleep. In college, I could subsist on 4 hours of sleep, but now I need at least 6. I left Citystate Tower Hotel to eat breakfast at the nearby McDonald's. I walked crazy fast because it was dark and the street looked sketchy, so my fight-or-flight hormones were in high gear. A cup of coffee and a Sausage McMuffin later, I was in line outside St. Luke's at around 4:15am.

Just before 5am, I received my queue number (I was number 5) after the guard checked the requirements: my passport, appointment letters for the medical and the visa interview, as well as the NVC letter containing the case number. It seems registering online speeds things up a bit, since you'll already have information needed to register so no need to fill up a form on the spot.

At 6am, the clinic opened and I was already admitted inside. I had to put my jacket on because of the AC. Not long after being seated in the reception area, I got called to start the process. Here's a timeline of what happened the rest of the morning:

6:05 - Requirements checked, fingerprint taken, forms signed, preliminary questions answered

6:10 - Went up to the 5th floor to pay (it cost P11, 300); 4th floor laboratory to have blood drawn

6:30 - Went down another floor for the x-ray.

At this point, I was thinking, wow this is fast! By 6:30 am, I had accomplished so much already. Then I got to the vital signs portion.

7ish - Vital signs checked (height, weight, blood pressure, visual acuity). My blood pressure was normal but slightly higher than usual because I was probably nervous. I totally sucked at the eye test.

8:00 - Interview with a doctor about immunization, allergies, and general medical history.

Notes:

  • For every window/counter I went to, they would always ask me when my last period was. So ladies, keep track of your periods. It's probably good to remember these things for our gynecological and overall health anyway.
  • Also, I had to pay close attention to the PA system. At times, the announcements from different floors happened at the same time or the sound would be a bit muffle. It's wise not to use earphones.


After the immunization interview, I had to wait another half hour before the physical checkup. For that I had to take off all my clothes, but thankfully I still had a hospital gown on. Turns out they didn't need to check my lady parts. The doctor did look at my hiney to check for infection. A second doctor asked me a barrage of questions more detailed than the ones from the immunization interview. My physical went by quickly and by 9:15 am, I was back at the ground floor for further instructions. I was told to come back at 9 am the following day for possible immunizations.

March 23, Day 2

I arrived at SLEC 15 minutes before 9 am. I showed the guard my receipt then he told me to go up the 2nd floor for immunization. I received two kinds of vaccines and by 9:30 I was at the releasing section on the ground floor. At 10:45 am, I finally got my results in a sealed envelope. Yeah buddy. The consul will open the results during the interview.

The vaccine record and a CD containing the x-ray image are not included in the envelope, so when I got back I actually opened the CD to look at my x-ray image (I got curious about my scoliosis). They didn't say whether or not I could open the CD but after searching online, it seems like it won't be an issue. But yes, I panicked for a bit after I popped the CD into my laptop. My scolio is still there but it doesn't look like it worsened.

For the first day, I spent about 5 hours total to get everything done. Day 2 was much shorter. And that's it! The folks at St. Luke's were polite and efficient, and I had a good experience. Here's a short list of what I brought with me on Day 1:

  • A water bottle. Once you run out of water, you can refill the bottle using the drinking fountains. Food isn't allowed inside but maybe you can sneak in some crackers if you can't hold out for too long.
  • A book
  • My iPad. I use my iPad mainly for browsing, picture-taking, and reading e-books. I brought it for extra reading material and note-taking.
  • 2 ballpoint pens
  • Jacket
  • Managed expectations and a reminder of why I'm doing all of this
Thank you, Jesus, for the speedy process, the energy, and financial provision. One more step—the interviewand it'll be over soon. 

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Resources:
SLEC website with all the information you'll need for the medical exam
US Travel Docs for more information. Because you can't have too much information for processes like this!

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