Monday, October 25, 2021

When in CCMC, ‘please be patient’

BIRTH PANGS FOR CEBU CITY’S PUBLIC HOSPITAL. A large tent borrowed from the Philippine Red Cross houses the maternity and pediatrics patients in the temporary facilities of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC). The earthquake last Oct. 15, 2013 forced the City to abandon and demolish the old hospital. The situation in its temporary location “is a little better” than when the hospital staff fi rst began working there, but it’s a picture of how much the calamity has tested the public health care system. (SUN.STAR PHOTO/ALEX BADAYOS)

LIMITED space and angry patients.

These continue to hound the staff of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) one year after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake forced them to transfer their operations to the smaller Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 compound.

The tremors damaged the four-story CCMC building, which the Cebu City Government abandoned three days after the earthquake last Oct. 15. It was demolished a few months later.

Dr. Jofrey Calunog, who is assigned to the internal medicine department, said working in and operating a hospital with limited space is a sacrifice.

Daghan gyud og pagsubok diri. Kaming mga doctors, wa na mi mga quarters, di pareha sauna. Sakripisyo ni namo para sa mga pobre kay unsaon na man lang ang hospital kung way doctor? Kinsa’y motambal nila? (We face many challenges here. Unlike before, doctors no longer have quarters here so it’s really a sacrifice on our part for the poor patients. But what would happen to this hospital if there are no doctors? Who would treat them?),” he said.

Turned away

Calunog has been working in CCMC for more than a year and is among the hospital’s 30 resident doctors in training.

Because there’s little room at the BFP 7 compound, CCMC’s bed capacity was reduced from 300 to only 108 at present. There are days when some patients are refused admission because of the lack of beds.

“So naa gyu’y mangreklamo. Naa’y mga masuko nganong di sila pwede diri. So hinay-hinay na lang namo og pasabot nga lisod atong situation karon kay naguba ang hospital (Some of them get angry and complain why they cannot be admitted here, so we have to explain to them that the situation is different now. It’s been difficult since the old building got damaged),” the doctor said.

Adding to the staff’s woes is the poor ventilation in the temporary hospital.

Using space

Kadugayan, naanad na lang mi sa kainit. Mo-adjust na lang mi (We’re used to it now, we have to adjust to the situation),” he said.

To make more room for patients, CCMC chief Dr. Gloria Duterte said they converted the parking lot of the BFP compound into emergency rooms for the pediatrics department, surgery department, obstetrician-gynecologist department, internal medicine department and the operating room.

The BFP’s gym, on the other hand, was converted into wards for the out-patient and pediatrics department.

All three floors of the BFP building are also being used as wards.

(CCMC shares the BFP building with the offices of BFP officials and firefighters, whose fire trucks are now parked outside the Parian Fire Station to make room for additional wards.)

In the cramped emergency rooms, plywood is used to separate the rooms, so that even the shuffling of hospital workers and the creaking of beds are audible for patients trying to get some rest.

The outpatient department, on the other hand, is housed in the BFP gym at the back of the compound, with insulated styrofoam hanging from the tin roof as makeshift ceiling.

For some, the heat is unbearable.

Beside it, a large windowless tent lent by the Philippine Red Cross stands and serves as the maternity and pediatrics ward.

What it’s like

The ceiling fans installed there do little to keep the infants and their mothers comfortable. In some beds shared by two to three babies, mothers who have just given birth use cardboards to fan themselves and their newborn.

In the alleys, patients have to walk carefully lest they trip on the uneven ground and pathways improvised from wood, or slip on the water leaking from the roof.

“But at least now, the situation is a little better compared before when we first started our operations here,” said Duterte.

But not all areas of the temporary hospital are far from ideal.

The office spaces on the three floors of the BFP building have been converted into wards and private rooms for patients needing special care.

In one of the air-conditioned rooms, an elderly man is able to rest in a quiet environment, away from the heat and noise that patients in the congested wards have to put up with.300 every day

For Francisco Gica, the supervising nurse of the outpatient department, the limited space is their biggest challenge in operating the hospital.

Huot gyud kaayo. Unya daghan kaayong tawo. Gamay ra ang space, to think nabalik na sa normal ang number sa among consultation ug check-up (It’s really too cramped here. There are too many patients and so little space even if the number of consultations and check-up has gone back to normal),” he said.

Gica, who has been working in CCMC for 25 years, said that for consultations alone, they attend to about 300 patients every day.
So patients will not have to line up for a long time, Gica said they have to start accepting patients earlier than 8 a.m.

Similar to Gica’s concerns, Van Abatayo, a nurse at the female medical ward, said heir cramped ward is not an ideal set-up for the staff and the patients.

When asked what they had to do to cope with the trying conditions, Abatayo said they just have to adjust.

“Despite our difficulties, we have to give our patients the same kind of service and treatment,” he added.


Mary Lynne Diaz, a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit, echoed the sentiments of Abatayo. She said, though, that she understands the present situation at CCMC.

“We have to make do with what we have and just work with whatever resources are available. We just have to adjust,” she added.

Duterte appealed to the City’s constituents, especially the indigents, to be patient and understand CCMC’s situation.

She said that despite their limitations, they still try to deliver quality health care services to the people.

As for patients that they cannot accommodate, Duterte said they refer them to other hospitals.

“But of course there are patients who cannot afford to go to private hospitals so they ask to just stay here. I can feel that it is also hard for our patients,” she said.

Duterte said she cannot wait for the new CCMC building to rise so they can accommodate everyone who comes to the hospital. It is expected to be finished in 2016.
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