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PGH closes ER after fire: 12 babies among evacuees

The Philippine General Hospital’s (PGH) emergency room was temporarily closed and no admissions were accommodated Sunday after a fire occurred before dawn.

PRECIOUS MIRACLES. At least 12 babies had to be evacuated from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the fourth floor of the state-run Philippine General Hospital after fire broke out early Sunday morning. The babies were brought to the Sta. Ana Hospital along with other pediatric patients. Facebook post of Dr. Cindy Sotalbo
“We appeal for understanding. PGH will be closed for admission of any case. PGH ER will be closed starting today,” the hospital's spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario said in an interview on Dobol B TV.

Fire broke out on the third floor of PGH’s Central Block Building past midnight and it was put out at 5:41 a.m. No one was reported hurt.

One of the staff saw smoke coming out of the operating room supply area (ORSA) where linen is kept.

Fire was seen going up to the ceiling.

The staff member used a fire extinguisher but was unable to put out the fire.

Smoke went up to as high as the seventh floor, prompting hospital staff to evacuate patients, Del Rosario said.

“Some [patients] were brought to the chapel, the driveway, quadrangle, corridor. The 12 newborn babies who need to be in the nursery were transferred to the Sta. Ana Hospital,” he said in Filipino.

Some pediatric patients were also transferred to private hospitals, he added.

COVID-19 pay patients were also evacuated. Those who were in the intensive care unit were temporarily brought to the charity ward, while the others were brought to the emergency room near the OB department, he said.

“They were secured and we made sure they were not brought near non-COVID patients,” he said.

Those admitted in the pay hospital were temporarily brought to the emergency room, thus the ER is closed for the day, he added.

Some patients, however, were already brought back to their rooms.

Del Rosario said the operating rooms of the hospital were spared from the fire.

Fire officials have yet to determine the cause of the fire.

Senator Joel Villanueva on Sunday proposed to tap the P19.445 billion unused 2020 and 2021 “calamity funds” to finance the immediate repair of PGH.

He warned that a PGH with a reduced operational capacity would aggravate the chronic bed shortage for patients with severe COVID-19 and others, like those with cancer, who seek treatment from one of the nation’s best public hospitals.

"The repair of PGH is very important because thousands of our people are depending on their (medical) care and treatment. But it is not only the PGH and its patients who suffer but the public too,"Villanueva said

He described as a "double calamity" the early morning fire that sent patients – infants in incubators and intubated adults – being wheeled out to safety.

Villanueva said the unused calamity funds could be used to jumpstart the efforts to “building back a better and bigger PGH.”

Under the 2021 national budget, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (NDRRMF), the Calamity Fund’s official name, has been appropriated P20 billion, of which P5 billion is for the Marawi rehabilitation.

Topics: Philippine General Hospital , National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund , Jonas del Rosario , Central Block Building
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