hospitals in the Philippines

DOH, BFP place hospitals under close monitoring after PGH fire

Sofia Tomacruz
DOH, BFP place hospitals under close monitoring after PGH fire

SAFE. Patients, health workers, and other staff evacuate outside the Philippine General Hospital after a fire hit early morning on May 16, 2021.

Camille Elemia/Rappler

The fire at one of the country’s major COVID-19 designated health centers comes as the Philippines continues to battle rising numbers of coronavirus cases

Hospitals across the country were placed under close monitoring by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and local government units, after a fire over the weekend hit the Philippine General Hospital, one of the country’s major COVID-19 designated health centers.

“We have advised and coordinated with different agencies concerned, including the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), local governments, and the Bureau of Fire Protection to monitor our hospitals because we know fire incidents are highest during the summer season,” Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino during a virtual forum on Monday, May 17. 

Vergeire made the statement after PGH was hit by a nearly 5-hour fire early Sunday morning, May 16. 

A portion of one floor was found to have been directly affected by the blaze, while at least 12 patients were referred for transfer to other DOH hospitals. Vergeire said that as of Monday, eight patients had already been transferred, while four more patients’ cases were being processed before completing transfer. 

Vergeire said the DOH has also distributed additional N95 and KN95 masks to the hospital since staff were required to wear this for 48 hours, as smoke from the fire could still linger.

In a separate briefing on Monday, PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi said the fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring. PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario earlier told DZBB in an interview that the fire started at the Operating Room Sterilization Area on the third floor of PGH’s central block building, where paying patients were admitted.

It did not spread to other areas, and there were no casualties from the fire. 

“We are strengthening this [monitoring] to prevent similar incidents like this in the future,” Vergeire said on Monday. 

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Days before the fire that hit PGH, another fire broke out at the storage facility of the Pasig City General Hospital late Wednesday morning, May 12, prompting the transfer of some of its patients to another hospital.

Firefighters took more than four hours to put out the blaze that reached third alarm. No injuries and major damage to equipment were reported. 

The fires at separate hospitals came as the Philippines continues to battle rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Over a year since the pandemic started, over 1.1 million total cases have been reported, 54,904 of which were still active as of May 16. Another 19,191 patients have died due to the disease. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.