Mass testing at Fabella Hospital sought amid poor handling of COVID-19 PUIs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) – A healthcare worker on Friday appealed for mass testing for all staff at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila over the facility's alleged poor handling of patients suspected of having COVID-19, which may have exposed all hospital personnel to the deadly virus.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pinky Webb, health worker “Andrew” also claimed that persons under investigation (PUIs) admitted in the hospital do not have a separate ward. He said PUIs are mixed with patients who do not have symptoms of the virus.

The Fabella Hospital employee disclosed that their isolation room can only accommodate up to four patients. Once that room is full, the PUIs are brought to the operating and delivery rooms where they are confined.

Yung iba naming PUI na pasyente, nahahalo sa mga wards," 'Andrew' revealed. "Walang social distancing doon. Labag po ito sa protocol dahil hindi quarantine area doon."

[Translation: Our PUI patients are mixed with other ward patients. Social distancing is not observed there. This is against the protocol because it is not a quarantine area.]

“Andrew” also divulged to CNN Philippines that some of the hospital personnel themselves may now be carriers of COVID-19 due to the poor handling of the PUIs there.

He also lamented the absence of isolation area for staff suspected of contracting the virus. He also accused the hospital management of not disclosing the results of employees' COVID-19 tests.

May mga naging positive na empleyado sa aming hospital," he claimed. "Itinatago po ng management kung sino-sino ang mga naging positive na empleyado. May mga PUI na empleyado na naka-duty pa rin sa amin."

[Translation: There are employees in our hospital who are COVID-19 positive. The management did not reveal who are the employees who tested positive. There are employees in duty who are also PUI.]

“Andrew” alleged that there are at least 14 personnel in Fabella who are COVID-19 positive or PUIs.

He, together with other employees, wrote a letter informing the management of the hospital's hazardous condition which compromises the safety of both the patients and the staff.

Meanwhile, the Fabella Hospital management issued a statement saying they have already designated a building to separate patients infected or suspected of having COVID-19.

“Further expansions were implemented due to the surge of patients, with putting up of tents and renovations in the main hospital building to accommodate patients who will not tell the truth of their status,” said the statement signed by the hospital’s head, Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem.

The management also stressed they placed a census of isolation room patients in the hospital lobby’s bulletin board.

Hospital employees who are positive of COVID-19 are also disclosed by the management, it said.

“Results of personnel who became positive came out last April 12 and had been disclosed to respective units,” the statement read.

The hospital management clarified that all suspected personnel have been isolated but some preferred home quarantine.

“We hope this complaint letter is in no way being used to prevent some personnel to be assigned and be in direct combat against the unseen enemy,” the management added.

The Department of Health has been eyeing the new building of Fabella Hospital to be a COVID-19 facility to help control the spread of the virus in the country.

READ: DOH eyes Fabella hospital to help in COVID-19 fight