Bodies 'piled up' in morgue hallway – East Ave Hospital spokesperson

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

One of the country’s major hospitals involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus says, bodies have “piled up” in the hallway of its morgue facility. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 11) – One of the country’s major hospitals involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus says, bodies have “piled up” in the hallway of its morgue facility.

East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) spokesperson Dr. Dennis Ordoña told CNN Philippines, this is because the hospital did not have sufficient equipment, such as freezers, to store additional human remains.

Ang capacity lang po kasi noon [morgue] is for 5 patients. Ang pinakamataas po na na-record po namin ay 20 na mga cadavers na hindi po napi-pick-up,” the doctor says.

Ordoña adds that some of the bodies have been staying in the morgue for at least four days. He says, “honestly po, may mga bangkay na po doon na nangangamoy na. Umaabot na din po admittedly 'yung amoy sa ibang areas po ng hospital.”

[TRANSLATION: Our hospital morgue is built for only 5 patients. The highest number we’ve recorded so far are 20 remains which have not yet been picked up. Honestly, there are bodies that have started to smell. We admit, that the stench reaches other areas of the hospital.]

The hospital made the confirmation after news anchor Arnold Clavio posted on his Instagram account ‪Saturday morning‬ about what was allegedly going on inside a hospital in Metro Manila.

Citing a “frontliner” in the hospital as his source, Clavio said, “Nagkalat sa hallway ng ospital ang mga bangkay. Sa isang ward, ‪may 15-20‬ ang Covid-19 positive. Sa tatlong ward, puno ng PUI (Person Under Investigation),” Clavio said.

[TRANSLATION: Dead bodies are littered along the hospital hallway. In one ward, there are 15-20 (patients) who tested positive for COVID-19. Three other wards are full of PUIs.]

Ordoña confirmed to CNN Philippines that it was indeed East Avenue Medical Center that Clavio was referring to in the post. He then refuted the claim made by Clavio’s source, saying that the bodies were not located in the hospital’s hallway, but in the morgue hallway, which was a separate facility from the main hospital.

Ordoña added that so far, none of the bodies have tested positive for COVID-19, saying that they will wait for test results to know if they have the virus – hence they are considered as persons under investigation (PUIs).

The spokesperson says, on a typical day - the remains of a dead person only stays in the morgue for a short while. It would then be collected from the hospital after six hours for cremation or for temporary storage in a freezer.

Speaking in the vernacular, Ordoña says, this process is mandatory, whether or not the deceased patient’s bills have been settled.

He adds, the hospital is coordinating with local government units where the deceased person used to live, if relatives of the deceased wouldn’t be able to claim their relatives’ remains due to the ongoing implementation of the enhanced community quarantine; or if they are unable to pay for the cremation processes.

"We don't know, baka ang relatives hindi na kineclaim sa takot na mahawa sila. O kaya, hindi makalabasdahil ang asawa ng namatay ay PUI din kaya hindi maprocess ang katawan ng kamag-anak," Ordoña said.

Under Section 4.6 of the Interior Department’s guidelines for handling PUI and COVID-19 deaths, local governments “shall designate and commission reputable funeral parlors and crematoriums to handle the remains of confirmed COVID-19 cases and PUIs.” They are also mandated to shoulder logistical, fuel, and salary expenses involved in the process.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, Ordoña says 6 bodies remain uncollected in the morgue.

In the end, Ordoña said that the hospital is open for donations of personal protective equipment, body bags, and a mobile morgue or freezer to store human remains. He also says the hospital will not cease operations.

He says, “sa ngayon po,ang maihihingi lang po namin is suporta mula po sa lahat ng mga Pilipino, whether private po ito or government. Kami naman po sa East Avenue ay hindi aatras, hindi po kami titigil na magserbisyo."

[TRANSLATION: The only thing we can ask now is support from our fellow Filipinos, whether the private sector or the government. We, at East Avenue (Medical Center) will not back down, we will not stop our operations.]

No order to stop counting deaths - DOH

In a statement sent to reporters, East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) director Dr. Alfonso Nuñez said they did not get any “directive, order or statement” from both the Quezon City local government and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Nuñez also says they are continuously recording and reporting COVID-related death numbers to the Health Department’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

The hospital made the pronouncement after Clavio also posted on his Instagram account about about an alleged order not to report deaths inside a “certain hospital in Metro Manila.”

Ordoña confirmed to CNN Philippines that it was indeed East Avenue Medical Center that Clavio was referring to in the post.

The Health Department also said that all hospitals and health centers are mandated “to report on consultations and/or admissions, and the status thereof” that fit the DOH's coronavirus case definitions.