Communication issue

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT’S GOOD that Western Visayas Medical Center has issued a statement regarding the concern of Dr. Mae Albacete of the Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Maasin, Iloilo.

As reported earlier, Dr. Albacete said WVMC and even district hospitals run by the Iloilo provincial government “refused” four dengue patients from the town.

The story did generate a lot of attention, particularly nasty comments from netizens, but that is the least of our concern.

The more important thing is that concerns were aired in the public, especially the referral system from the community to the hospitals.

Let’s picture out how the referral system amid the dengue crisis works. The RHUs serve as hydration units as ordered by the Department of Health. The most that RHUs can do in this setup is to administer hydration measures on dengue patients who do not exhibit warning signs such as abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, signs of fluid accumulation, mucosal bleeding, lethargy, restlessness, liver enlargement, increase in hematocrit and/or decreasing platelet count. Also, if the patients are able to tolerate adequate volumes of oral fluids, they can stay at the RHU in the meantime.

Once the patient shows warning signs of a severe dengue case, the RHU can refer them to the nearest district hospital. If the district hospital (and all of them are overflowing with patients) sees that it cannot manage the patient’s situation, it can refer the case to tertiary hospitals like WVMC.

But as narrated by Dr. Albacete, who was only concerned with the lives of their townmates, she called up Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital (RTMDH) in Cabatuan and told the doctor on duty about the three patients they will refer. After describing that the patients were suffering from low platelet count (which could lead to bleeding and shock), the district hospital suggested bringing them straight to WVMC.


Dr. Joseph Dean Nicolo, WVMC Chief of Hospital II, already explained that they did not refuse the patients but only referred them back to RTDMH and Western Visayas Sanitarium in Sta. Barbara town. Indeed, the patients were admitted in the two hospitals.

We hope that this matter will be further clarified and settled, especially the protocols and referral system, after the visit of Health Sec. Francisco Duque III on Thursday. Time is of essence nowadays, especially if dengue patients show signs of rapid deterioration.



A noted doctor in Iloilo and friend of mine told me that P400 million is enough to put up a 100-bed hospital with basic facilities such as a laboratory, ultrasound, and x-ray machines.

“Give me P400 million and I will put up a decent hospital for the public,” my friend said.

The Iloilo provincial government earlier declared that it invested P1.6 billion in 12 provincial and district hospitals in a span of six years.

If we break it down, the average investment would be P22.22 million per hospital over a six-year period.

The Capitol will have to invest more if it wants to increase bed capacity and facilities, not just the buildings. And we also have to factor in the workforce. We just hope that more money will be poured into public hospitals when the dengue outbreak eases.

By the way, the Capitol redevelopment project which includes the landscaping and multilevel parking building costs more or less P400 million.