By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Some departments and services of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila will soon be transferred to the Philippine Blood Center building in the compound of Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) in Quezon City on Oct. 3, based on the latest memorandum released by the Fabella hospital management on Sept. 4.
The building in the LCP compound will be the temporary relocation of the maternity hospital while the new Fabella is being constructed in its new location inside the Department of Health compound, also in Manila.
The memorandum said the offices and employees of the following are to be transferred: said the offices and employees of the Office of the Medical Center Chief II, School of Midwifery, Hospital Operations and Patient Support Service, Finance Service, Professional Training, Education and Research Service, Comprehensive Family Planning and the Commission of Audit Field Office.
The in-patient department, however, will remain in its current location in Lope De Vega street, Manila said Ramon Baldovino, pharmacist II in Fabella hospital and also a member of the Save Fabella Hospital Movement (SFHM).
They have set-up a kubol on Wednesday, Sept. 28, as they vow not waver on their fight against the transfer of the maternity hospital.
Elvira Mendoza, SFHM spokesperson said that the transfer of administration offices will only jeopardize the smooth hospital operations. “Saan ka nakakita ng hospital na watak-watak?” she told Bulatlat. Furthermore, Mendoza said that the transfer is a “step towards abolishment of free and affordable hospital services.”
Several groups have joined together in June this year to stop the supposed transfer of the maternity hospital on June 9. While transfer was halted on the target date, however the plan has not been scrapped under the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Earlier this month, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said that the transfer will push through.
The SFHM composed of several groups including employees of Fabella hospital, remain steadfast in opposing the plan, as they say the transfer of the hospital equates to corporatization which will mean expensive services for the poor. The group cited the case of the Government-Owned and Control Corporations, such as the Philippine Heart Center and National Kidney Transplant Institute, which increased the prices of their health services, making these inaccessible to indigent patients.
Hospital for poor mothers
News of the hospital transfer saddened Neneth Boncollo, 46 who was born in Fabella hospital in 1969. It was also there where she gave birth to her children. Now it is her granddaughter who gave birth in the hospital. She said Fabella’s services remain affordable for the poor and have a quality service that is why Fabella is their go-to hospital.
This was the same sentiment of Elizabeth Santos, 47, whose granddaughter also gave birth in the hospital. She said her granddaughter only had a three pre-natal check-up in Fabella, but the hospital still accommodated her. Santos and Boncollo said that they also paid less than P1,000 ($20).
“Many poor people have been benefitting from the affordable cost of the hospital, why would the government still want to abolish this?” Boncollo said.
In 2015, Fabella hospital had a total admission of 52,465 patients based on the Comparative Statistics of Measures of the Hospital Utilization and Performance, 2010-2015.
“Where will these patients go once the hospital is demolished, or worse privatized?” said Robert Mendoza, Alliance of Health Workers national chairman.
Baldovino said that the hospital has been refusing to admit some patients as the hospital is now cleaning some of its equipments in preparation for the transfer. Prior to that, Baldovino said that Fabella Hospital Director Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem also released a memorandum on Aug. 16 that stated downsizing of bed capacity of Fabella hospital from 700 to 200.
Baldovino said they also believe that the demand letter of the House Guaranty Corporation ordering the hospital management to vacate the land due to investment is the reason behind the relentless effort of the government to evict the hospital from its current location.
But even with the definite transfer of the hospital, Robert Mendoza said the SFHM with the Alliance of Health Workers, the community and other sectors will not back down on their struggle for a free and affordable health services for the poor. They plan to have series of lunch break protests and will guard the gates of Fabella to stop the moving out of equipments.