A Saving Grace



Weeklong celebration of the 50th Foundation Anniversary of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center early this month was colorful, full of ceremonies, promises and expectations. It came weeks after an infant died in the primary medical institution in the province with bereaved family and public wanting of clear understanding of what actually transpired. Reactions to the death of the child at the government hospital was harsh and met with usual denial of any wrongdoing without any look at remote and immediate causes of the tragic event.


The hospital management complain against scathing comments from those who expect public service as main agenda of a government hospital but even the local media has been complaining of difficult access to information with hospital administrators keeping a distance. For long, the EBMC administrators were not comfortable with the local media and it is probable but not likely that having a public information officer will keep the public informed of what they need to know.


But lately, the media felt good newly-apppointed Information Officer Dr. Zuniega did not waste time in providing information and sharing his opinion about pregnant mothers’ need for booster shots. A pregnant mother hesitant to receive booster shot brought out to Padaba Jing Reports Online what she believes as intrusion to her right to refuse and that ifever, she would agree after delivery of the child. Dr. Zuniega explained that it’s more beneficial for pregnant mothers to receive booster shots as protection in the whole period of pregnancy.


The new information officer is a saving grace and assurance that medical and non- medical workers in EBMC have realized smooth co- existence with the media and the public augurs well with what is expected from them as public servants. Going back to the main point raised in this piece, the nine-month old child who went under surgical intervention and died is the same misfortune of patients which were unnoticed because affected families just let things go by after desperate search for whys, whos and hows for relief from mental pain.


While all surgical processes are risky as EBMC admits and claims the medical staff have observed procedures akin to sound medical standards, there are factors attendant to similar cases precious lives were lost in the government hospital. The government health facility geared to attend to medical needs particularly of the poor has lost the essence of public service with health officials, primarily some doctors, making a business out of medical profession. Disgraceful alliance with the notorious Philhealth is another story.


Allow me to cite instances which cater to impressions of making public health services as medical enterprise before an ordinance designed for the purpose was passed which amendment to provisions Governor Joseph Cua lately emphasized as primary agenda. Resident and attending or any kind of status of doctors in the hospital are owners and operators of drug stores in the vicinity and elsewhere so that prescriptions are dictated by profits than remedy to ailment. Many go for generic which they say are as potent and curative but some prescribe otherwise and what does it mean? Is it to maximixe profit of drugstores in the vicinity so that for such purpose there is scarce supply, if there is, of medicine at the pharmacy inside EBMC? Similarly, physicians in the medical center are more occupied in their private clinics that unnecessarily interfers with punctuality and dedication to hospital duties. It needs curative measures and interventions for medical and non-medical personnel particularly utility workers/janitors in the like of study on behavior and wotk attitude if they, especially doctors, have not yet lost grasp of Hippocratic oaths.


Politics in Catanduanes is full of notable politicians who have pledged transformation of the medical instituion into what it should be but Eastern Bicol Medical Center remains the same , pardon my terms, undesirable in kind language and notorious in hostile expression, totally opposite the very purpose it was created. Not long ago, grandson JM, a gem in my life, was brought to EBMC and during occurences of high fever which was a cause for alarm, only nursing students in training duties were around and doctors were beyond sight. I felt some sense of relief Nikki, my niece, was one of the student nurses.


And I feel grateful that JM is sound and healthy but what about those with lingering sad memories of losing their loved ones for reasons they hardly understand? We hope for Governor Cua’s agenda before his hitory-making third term ends, for reform to come to reality in order to save many from the harrowing experience of seeing their loved ones suffer in the process of medication and make the death of the nine-month old child a month ago a thing of the past. Incidentally, reports came out in a weekly issue of a local paper and Padaba Jing Reports Online about unattended and dirty (dis)comfort rooms despite additional job order and service contract utility workers assigned by the provincial government.