Cebu City hospital staff members cope with disaster | Inquirer News

Cebu City hospital staff members cope with disaster

By: - Day Desk Editor / @dbongcac
/ 12:08 AM October 26, 2013

THE GYMNASIUM of the Bureau of Fire Protection has been converted into a ward of Cebu City Medical Center that has been evacuated following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15. Junjie Mendoza / CDN

Pediatrician Rebecca Madali stopped to fan herself and then went back to attend to a baby placed on top of a small table in the lobby of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) building on N. Bacalso Avenue in Cebu City.

The lobby has been converted into an emergency room and an outpatient department for patients of the government-owned Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), which was rendered structurally perilous after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas on October 15.


“Working in a very humid environment in the last four days has been difficult. But working without a hospital table to use is even more difficult,” said Madali of the CCMC pediatric unit.


She was not complaining though. “This is what you call service, and it pays with the satisfaction that you get from what you do,” she said with a smile.

Madali is among the staff members of the city-owned CCMC who are working round the clock at the improvised medical facility at the BFP building. The 45-year-old hospital had to be abandoned after suffering cracks on the second- and third-floor columns that made it structurally unfit following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that rocked Cebu and Bohol.

Tents were put up on the sidewalk in front of the hospital for 133 patients, but they had to be moved again the next day to the BFP building because they were exposed to fumes from vehicles passing along N. Bacalso Avenue.

Eleven patients in critical condition were transferred to other hospitals.

Behind the BFP building are the gymnasium and the chapel that have been used as wards for adult patients and pediatric ward. At the far end of the lobby, medical supplies are stored.

Although they are away from the main road, the patients and the medical staff have to endure the heat and humidity.


Nurse Maria Dona Kierulf, who was assigned to the nursery and pediatric department, used her “abaniko” to fan the babies in the ward. “This is the only way I know to help relieve the babies of their discomfort,” she said.

Several patients have also been discharged, cutting down the number to 43, including seven infants and an elderly.

The number of outpatient admissions dropped by half since CCMC transferred operations.

Madali, who is in her 50s, attends to 60-80 patients a day, mostly suffering from respiratory and gastric problems. “But I do not mind because we had everything that we needed while we were still using the hospital,” she said.

Working at the BFP lobby was different from what she was exposed to in her 10-year private practice before moving to CCMC eight years ago. She decided to work in a government hospital after her two children graduated from college.

“It’s a totally different experience when you work for a government hospital. You get to feel a different kind of satisfaction in what you do,” she said.

At her new workstation, for instance, Madali   has only a small office table where she places the baby brought in for check-up. Her back faces the iron railings of a staircase that leads to the second floor occupied by the BFP Central Visayas office.

The heat of the sun touching her back adds to the discomfort.

Another pediatrician, Kira Yao, occupies a table beside her.

Yao said the noise and the movement of people around her were distracting her at work, “but I have to live with it.”

“With the limited space that we occupy, we don’t have much choice but to just focus on our work and make sure that we do it right,” she said.

Love of her profession and of service motivate her during difficult times, she added.

When the Philippine Daily Inquirer talked to her, Yao was attending to a baby who was coughing. A 5-year-old girl was screaming on the next table while getting an antirabies shot from the attendant of the animal bite center.

“We could only hope that the hospital construction project will be completed soon so we could already transfer and resume normal operations,” Yao said.

Mayor Michael Rama has ordered the demolition of the CCMC building. To build a new and better equipped hospital, the city government must raise P1.5 billion.

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On Oct. 21, the city launched the “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” campaign to raise funds for the hospital project. City Hall employees and passersby drop coins and paper bills into empty water bottles placed at the earthquake command center at Plaza Sugbu.

TAGS: Bohol, Cebu, Earthquake, Regions

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