Why is DOH 7 suspending its probe?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


THERE'S an old Cebuano saying, “Kun magtanom ka og hangin moani ka og bagyo.” But for this article, I would paraphrase that saying into: “Kun magtanom ka’g kalibog, moani kag buhawe--sa kamatuoran.”

After the management of the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House, or simply the “maternity hospital,” chose to be less candid on the result of its investigation into the allegation that its personnel taped the mouth of an infant placed in its nursery, it now looks like it is about to reap the whirlwind.

But first what was sowed:

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--Apparently following what can be considered a transfer-the-blame and sue-us-if-you-want strategy, the maternity hospital’s lawyer, Cornelio Mercado, went around town denying that the hospital had any hand in the taping of the mouth of the child of Ryan Noval and Jasmine Badocdoc and shifted the focus on the parents’ supposed suspicious acts.

--Maternity hospital medical director Raida Varona sent the Department of Health (DOH) 7 an incident report reiterating what Mercado had already said.

--Nurses Arianne Mae Pacula and Kamille Isabela Neri, together with Mercado, surfaced in a DOH 7-led probe into the incident and reiterated what Mercado and Varona had said, this time with additional details. No mouth taping; the parents acted suspiciously in the nursery.

The maternity hospital’s strategy seemed okay at that point. But it didn’t consider public reaction.

On May 24, 2014, young mother Chesiel Lyka Arsua posted photo grabs of her then two-day old baby Blaire, who was born at the maternity hospital last Feb. 22, 2014. It was from a video and showed the baby with a pacifier in her mouth that was held in place by a medical tape.

The photos were captioned: “My Blaire was also taped during her stay sa Maternity.

Blaire was only 2 days old ani nga picture. The reason is para muhilom daw akung baby kay saba daw cgeg hilak.”

Yesterday, radio station dyLA posted on Facebook a report about a third baby, Lushella, who was born at the maternity hospital on Aug. 8 2013. The father, Lucresio Son of Barangay Tabunan, Cebu City, claimed he also saw that the mouth of the child was taped to hold a pacifier in place. When asked about it, a nurse supposedly said, “aron di kuno magsaba.” He wasn’t able to take pictures of the baby at that time.

It looks like the whirlwind is forming against CPCMH.

By the way, there’s seems to be a common thread in these taping cases, from Badocdoc, to Arsua and to Son. They all heard the same reasoning for the taping: to pacify a crying baby. Which tempts me into thinking this could be a maternity hospital policy.

That is why I am disgusted with yesterday’s decision of the DOH 7-led inter-agency task force looking into the mouth-taping incident to suspend its investigation just because Noval and Badocdoc have decided to file a case against the maternity hospital.

I thought from the onset that the probe is focusing on the probable violation of CPCMH of the rules on handling newborn babies.

A legal case is sure to drag on. But considering recent development, there is an
urgent need to look into the maternity hospital’s policies. There is reason to suspect that using pacifiers and holding these in place with medical tape could be a practice in the hospital to silence a crying baby.

Interestingly, the DOH 7-led inter-agency task force suspended its probe just when the Board of Trustees of CPCMH issued a press release stating that “it will abide with the outcome and decision of the investigating body.”

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.

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