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Health chief to review transfer of Fabella building

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said she will review the transfer of Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital from its current location within the Old Bilibid compound in Sta Cruz, Manila, to the health department's San Lazaro compound.  

Ubial revealed on Tuesday, July 5, the details of her short dialogue with groups opposed to the transfer.

"I talked to them. We talked for about 30 minutes, looking into their position, and I told them that we will review the documents. According to them, Fabella does not need to transfer, but I still have to look at the report of the city engineer's office," she told reporters in a chance interview after the kick-off ceremony of National Blood Donor's Month in Jaro, Iloilo City.

The DOH plans to transform the hospital for poor birthing mothers into a center for women's health and move it to the health department's compound.

Different institutions – Manila City Hall, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and a private engineering company called ESCA – have found that 4 out of Fabella's 8 buildings are structurally unsound. 

The construction of the new facility – a 6-floor, 800-bed capacity Level 3 hospital – at the DOH compound is expected to be finished by May 2017. 

As part of its preparation, the health department has initially ordered health workers and patients to vacate the maternity hospital before June 9. 

Until its completion, the DOH said patients and staff will be temporarily transferred to other public hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital, José R Reyes Memorial Medical Center, and the Fabella outpatient department in Quezon City.

Ubial said the groups are not opposed to the new, 800-bed hospital, which is expected to be finished in 2017. They, however, want it to be an annex or an extension, while the old Fabella building remains.

"I told them, we'll see how that will work, because, terms of management, it would be difficult to manage two facilities, and your human resources will be split. But we will look into that,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

While she's willing to study the feasibility of the group's suggestions, Ubial noted that she will make a decision based on evidence and only after looking at the "total picture."

This means aside from the recommendation of the city engineer, she will also talk to other hospital personnel, and the Home Guaranty Corporation, which owns the land where Fabella is currently located.

On June 14, Ubial's predecessor, then Secretary Janette Garin, denied that the Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital would be demolished.

"Fabella will not be closed. No employees will be terminated or displaced. It is not a public-private partnership (PPP) project," Garin clarified on Rappler Talk.

Garin explained that the DOH assigned hospitals to accept overspill patients coming from the Fabella hospital to avoid congestion. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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