WVMC denies turning dengue patients away

HEALTH Sec. Francisco Duque III is expected to visit the town of Maasin, Iloilo today to check dengue patients who are temporarily confined to the municipal covered gym. He will also swing by other rural health units to check the situation and provide help from the national government. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Western Visayas Medical Center in Mandurriao, Iloilo City denied refusing dengue patients who were referred to its care.

Instead, the dengue patients underwent assessment and evaluation and were eventually referred to the corresponding district hospitals, according to Dr. Joseph Dean Nicolo, WVMC Chief of Hospital II.

Nicolo made the clarification after the exclusive interview of Daily Guardian with Dr. Mae Albacete, municipal health officer of Iloilo, expressing her frustration on the refusal of WVMC to accept four dengue patients from the town who were suffering from low platelet count.

The video circulated online and garnered mixed reactions from netizens.

According to Nicolo, he already talked with his staff and they have all denied refusing the patients.

“I already talked with my staff and they denied refusing the patients. Gina-appraise ang folks, but it is not refusal,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Nicolo said their assigned triage officer, who is also a doctor, assessed the Maasin patients and advised them to refer their patients to the nearby Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospial in Cabatuan, Iloilo and Western Visayas Sanitarium in Santa Barbara, Iloilo.

“It was advised nga didto i-admit sa Ramon Tabiana and Santa Barbara kay gin-assess sang amon triage officer who is assigned sa mga referrals nga kun pwede i-hapit lang sa malapit nga hospital sa Cabatuan and Santa Barbara and true enough didto sila na-admit,” he explained.

He emphasized that as a tertiary hospital, they are the last resort of the patients to be admitted. Hence, they maintain a “no refusal” policy on their hospital.

“WVMC is a tertiary, government, and DOH hospital. May policy kami nga no refusal. Any patient can be referred kasi, kami ang last nga kadtu-an. We never refuse dengue patients and I have been telling my staff that they should never refuse any dengue patients,” Nicolo said.

As of now, Nicolo said that they have already exceeded their 425-bed capacity, currently accommodating 624 patients.

Out of the 624 admitted patients, 82 are dengue patients mostly from Iloilo City, Passi City, and Pototan in Iloilo.

“We are preparing for the influx of more dengue patients especially with the dengue outbreak in the region. Gina-strategize namon subong ang current dengue outbreak. We are planning to open up more wards and use other parts of the hospital pa to cater to the increasing dengue patients,” Nicolo said.

In a video uploaded by Daily Guardian on Tuesday which garnered more than 14,000 views and 280 shares, Albacete feared that the death toll in their town will increase if hospitals refuse their patients already suffering from severe dengue.

“As of subong, wala sila gabaton kay wala pa kuno signs of shock. Te, indi na kami gusto nga ma-dengue shock pa ang pasyente kay malayo kami. More than 30 minutes kami away from the hospital. Apat na amon patay, hulaton pa namon mag-pulo para maghulag kami sang pasyente,” she lamented.

Albacete has been crying out for help as they cannot cope with dengue patients in their town who are now admitted to the RHU which serves as hydration unit on orders of the Department of Health (DOH).

For two weeks now, the gym in Maasin has been converted into an annex of the RHU and has been operating 24/7 amid limited medicines and overworked personnel.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is expected to visit RHUs particularly in Maasin and Cabatuan on Thursday, to check the situation of the dengue patients.

Meanwhile, Nicolo said that he already talked and made clarifications with Albacete.

“This is an outbreak. We assure our full cooperation and subong dapat gid kami magbuligay,” he said.