President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to immediately repair the damaged portion of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) damaged by fire, saying he would use the President’s Social Fund (PSF) to help repair the hospital.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has advised PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi to inform the Palace what the hospital needs for its repair, because the President is willing to provide financial assistance.
Roque said Duterte may use funds from the PSF for the repair and other needs of the hospital after it was hit by a fire of still unidentified origin early Sunday morning.
In March 2017, Duterte gave PGH a check worth P100 million for the hospital’s poor patients who could not afford medical procedures and treatments.
“Doc Legaspi, whatever you need, just tell us. The President already offered a large amount in the past so whatever you need to repair the damage, we could tap from the President’s Social Fund because that has been offered to the PGH before,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
The President also directed National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon to visit the hospital to assess the damage.
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) investigators said a fire started at the operating room sanitization area at the third floor of PGH’s central block building. The fire was declared under control at 2:46 a.m. and was put out at 5:41 a.m.
On Monday, Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes filed House Resolution 1767, calling for the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare, Department of Finance, and other relevant government agencies to provide the needed financial, personnel, infrastructure, and supply aid to the PGH.
“The PGH being the go-to hospital of our indigent countrymen, its operation’s disruption due to fire is a significant blow to our pandemic-suffering health care system,” said Ordanes.
“Funds must be immediately mobilized and 24/7 reconstruction of the PGH must ensue so that normalcy can be attained in just a matter of days, not months,” Ordanes, chair of the House Committee on Seniors, stressed.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) said government hospitals would be monitored closely to avoid similar fires.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH coordinated with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) after the PGH fire Sunday morning.
Vergeire also said the DOH accepted eight patients that needed to be transferred out of the PGH due to the fire and provided the hospital with K95 and N95 masks
PGH’s Legaspi said they would resume accepting COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, May 18, after making the necessary adjustments.
He estimated that at least P50 million worth of equipment was damaged by the fire.
Legaspi estimated that it would take three to four months before the portion of the building that was hit by a fire resumes normal operations.
Legaspi said five sterilization units were damaged when fire broke out at the PGH operating room supply and autoclave room (ORSA) early Sunday morning.
Legaspi said this area is “very vital” to daily operations as it supports 32 operating rooms.
“Our estimate is ORSA’s normal operations will resume after three to four months with the construction considered,” he said.
In the meantime, he said, PGH is working with other hospitals and making internal adjustments to resume surgeries “on a regular basis.”
“[Our] strategy is to overcome government procurement procedures, maybe purchase them on an emergency basis so we can equip the hospital again,” he added.
The hospital director also said two areas in PGH have been designated to house sterilizing equipment for the meantime.
Senator Leila M. de Lima on Monday praised the courage and heroic acts of nurses and other health care workers who safely evacuated and saved 35 babies from the fire at PGH on May 16.
In particular, she cited two nurses, “Kathrina and Jomar” who showed dedication and courage for going back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to rescue the babies on ventilators.
“Despite the risks and dangers to their own lives, they did not hesitate to save these little angels who are under their care. You are true heroes! We salute and thank you for your sacrifices and dedication,” she said.