“Let us unite and ask President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and incoming Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial to modernize our hospital by allotting more government budget and award the lot to the hospital.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Health workers and various groups urged Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital’s Medical Chief, Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem to join the call to save the maternity hospital, instead of leading its evacuation, which may soon happen before President Aquino steps down from power on June 30.
In a report, Ilem said the hospital management would proceed with the transfer of the maternal hospital. The Save Fabella Hospital Movement, which has been barricading in front of the hospital, said they were told that the move will start any time soon.
Amid harassment on hospital employees, the group is not backing down and vowed to continue with their barricade until the end of this month. They are now in their 17th day of barricade.
The Save Fabella Hospital Movement said the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) responded to their letter and explained that the relocation of the Hospital “was arrived at by the Department of Health and Fabella Management” before the HGC took over the Old Bilibid Compound Urban Renewal and Infrastructure Development Project.
“Why is the Fabella management callous? Are they heartless to ignore the poor mothers and babies seeking the services of the maternity hospital?” said Robert Mendoza, Alliance of Health Workers president.
’Leave the issue up to new gov’t’
The group has sought the help of lawyer Ernesto Francisco, Jr. who then wrote Health Secretary Janette Garin, Ilem and Fabella Chief Administrative Officer Lourdes Mendoza to cease and desist from ordering the staff to transfer to the Philippine Blood Center building in the Lung Center of the Philippines compound.
“This issue is highly contested and disputed that it should be better left to the discretion and judgment of the incoming administration,” Francisco said.
Francisco also pointed out the ESCA structural investigation recommendation is to strengthen the major structural component “to prevent damages that may arise from a major earthquake or a maximum possible earthquake.”
He said the Department of Public Works and Highways Bureau of Design has supported ESCA’s recommendation to strengthen or retrofit the buildings, as it will not exceed 60 percent of the total cost.
Francisco also stressed that the construction of new hospital will not be until December 2017.
“There is no sense to your desire to immediately move the employees and staff out of the Fabella Hospital and disperse them to the Lung Center compound and different government hospitals in a manner that is not well-planned, drastic and without due consideration to the plight of the employees and staff,” Fancisco said.
Francisco said the transfer will also put at risk the patients confined in the wards of the maternity hospital.
Abraham Tinoco, operating room nurse and midwife in the hospital, said during their daily lunch break protest on June 17 that the number of patients has been reduced to 325.
“The reduction of patients is very noticeable as there are no more patients in the operating room,” he said, adding that there used to be at least a hundred patients admitted a day in the hospital.
Harassment of employees
Tinoco added that hospital employees and staff are being harassed to stop supporting the campaign to save Fabella.
Elvira Mendoza, an employee of the maternity hospital for the past 30 years and now the spokesperson of the Save Fabella Hospital Movement, has received a text message on June 15 from an unidentified number. The text message contained expletives and threatened to harm her family.
“Wala na akong takot na nararamdaman (I no longer feel any fear),” said Mendoza during the program.
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) and Save Fabella Hospital Movement condemned the harassment of employees who steadfastly fight for their and the Filipino people’s right to public healthcare.
Meanwhile, Benjie Santos, AHW secretary general salute all employees, health workers and the people who are continuing to participate in the barricade that they have set-up since June 1 when the management attempted to move hospital equipment from the hospital. They called on the public for more support to keep Fabella hospital in its current location in Lope De Vega street in Manila.
“Let us unite and ask President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and incoming Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial to modernize our hospital by allotting more government budget and award the lot to the hospital,” said Santos.