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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

DoH chief insists Fabella unsafe for staff, patients

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HEALTH Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial raised alarm that some of the buildings of the 65-year-old Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Medical Center are no longer safe because they may not withstand a strong earthquake.

“We must understand that the buildings of Fabella Hospital were built in the 1950s. The buildings were designed as government offices not as hospitals,” Ubial said.

Ubial said four of the eight buildings of the national maternity hospital, at Lope de Vega Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila, are already structurally unsound as determined by the Department of Public Works and Highways and a private engineering firm that assessed the buildings of the hospital complex.

The findings also showed that the continued and long-term presence of people inside the buildings is dangerous, especially in case of an earthquake.

Because of this, Ubial said Fabella management deemed it necessary to transfer clients and staff to a new site that complies with all the engineering and structural safety requirements.

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Oppositors had earlier suggested that the affected buildings undergo retrofitting to avoid disturbing the hospital’s operations but Ubial said it is more expensive to retrofit the existing buildings than build a new building.

She said the Duterte administration and the Department of Health are embarking on the long-term goal of building a new, modern and structurally fit and sound hospital that can serve the needs of mothers and children in much better and safer ways.

A new national maternity hospital inside the DoH compound in Rizal Avenue and Tayuman Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila is being constructed and is expected to be completed by May 2017.

“I emphasize the reality that it is in the long-term interest and safety of the people inside Fabella Hospital that we decided to transfer the facility. We must recognize the safety hazards and concerns posed by the existing structures.” said Ubial.

DoH expects its clients, surrounding community and hospital staff to appreciate the higher benefits of cooperating with the temporary arrangements for the continuous service of expecting women by the government hospitals, like the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center and other DoH hospitals in Metro Manila.

Through the years, the Fabella Hospital has been dubbed a “baby factory” because of the volume of births there being the go-to maternity facility of the poor. Members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. confined at Fabella Hospital are not charged a single centavo unless they exceed the insurance allocation of the government.

That has spurred strong opposition to the hospital’s transfer and Ubial asserted that they are in constant negotiation with the group to be able to reach an agreeable decision.

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