MANILA, Philippines?Vowing to slow down service at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), some 60 consultants of the hospital reportedly went on mass leave to dramatize their protest against the removal, allegedly without due process, of Dr. Jose Gonzales from the directorship.
But the UP-PGH administration, under Director Eric Domingo, assured the public on Monday that service would not be disrupted, with only 10 percent of the total 650 consultants or faculty members taking part in the protest.
PGH spokesman and Dr. Michael Tee said most of the consultants who reportedly went on leave rarely reported to the hospital for charity patient care and have private paying practices in different hospitals around Metro Manila while others have long been on leave and were simply included in the list of protesters.
One of the protesters, Dr. Edelina Dela Paz told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the UP-PGH administration has been denying the issues. ?We want to show that all of the people here at PGH are disgruntled? There is something going on here,? she stressed.
She claimed that their planned action during the flag-raising rites was thwarted by Dr. Domingo, who ordered the raising of the flag by security guards several minutes before the scheduled event. ?He was supposed to be present at the flag-raising rites. Why is he avoiding us??
While 100 protesters picketed outside the main entrance of the PGH, Dr. Domingo had been conducting retinoblastoma procedures on charity patients in one of the 33 operating rooms of the government hospital, Tee said.
In their statement, the protesting doctors claimed they decided to take a mass leave of absence starting on Monday ?to express our anger and dismay over the oppression and dubious removal from office of one of our own PGH doctors (Dr. Gonzales) and to strongly protest the lack of democratic process in selecting our director.?
They alleged that their leave of absence would protect them from following orders from ?a de facto PGH director,? with the resolution on who should be the legally recognized head of the UP-PGH still pending before the courts.
Dr. Gonzales has sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction from a Quezon City court.
?We call on our patients and the public for understanding, as we will not neglect the care of critically ill and emergent conditions, but may sadly have to defer outpatient consultations, elective surgical procedures and non-essential administrative functions,? they said in the statement.
But Tee disputed the claim, pointing out that there would be no outpatient clinics during the Holy Week, although the emergency room and wards would be open, and that the school has started its summer vacation.
?Even if some of them claimed to have gone on a leave of absence, a number of them still performed elective surgical procedures,? the spokesperson pointed out, emphasizing, ?It is service as usual. There are no delays in delivery of services.?
He further stressed that the leaves of absence of some 63 consultants or faculty members remain ?unconfirmed and unofficial? since they have to be evaluated and approved upon submission to the dean of the UP College of Medicine. Dean Alberto Roxas, the approving authority, has verified at least two who have gone on sabbatical while the rest have not formally filed for leaves.
A verification with UP-PGH operating room supervisor Julie Mangahis revealed that all 33 operating rooms of the hospital remained active on Monday, with most of the surgeons on their second cases as of noon.
In a statement, the UP-PGH administration assured patients, students, clients, and co-workers that ?services at the PGH will continue unhampered despite the leave of absence of some members of the UP College of Medicine faculty.?
It pointed out that the UPCM and PGH, apart from having around 650 common faculty members, have 100 medical specialists, 580 medical officers, 200 subspecialty fellows, 260 medical interns, 1,400 nursing staff and 1,200 administrative personnel.
?It is the Holy Week. Most of the doctors really intend to go on leave,? Tee remarked.