The Department of Health (DOH) has expressed fears that existing buildings of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Medical Center in Manila are not safe anymore to withstand strong earthquakes, citing the magnitude 6.2 tremblor that hit Italy recently.
The medical center on Lope de Vega Street in Manila’s Santa Cruz district serves thousands of mostly poor patients, many of them pregnant women.
Four of the eight buildings of the hospital are no longer structurally sound, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways and a private engineering firm, which had assessed the buildings.
The Health department and the engineering firm said continued and long-term presence of people inside the medical center is dangerous to life and property, especially in case of an earthquake.
“We must understand that the buildings of Fabella hospital were built in the 1950s. The buildings were designed as government offices not as a hospital. It is more expensive to retrofit the existing Fabella buildings than to build a modern and bigger national maternity hospital that can efficiently and safely serve the health care needs of pregnant women and newborns, a DOH architect said.
Thus, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said, the Duterte administration and the DOH are embarking on a long-term goal of building a new, modern, and structurally fit and sound hospital that can service the needs of mothers and children in “much better and safer ways.”
A new national maternity hospital inside the DOH compound on Rizal Avenue and Tayuman Street also in Santa Cruz district is being constructed and expected to be completed by May 2017.
“I emphasize the reality that it is in the long-term interest and safety of the people inside Fabella hospital that we decided to transfer the facility. We must recognize the safety hazards and concerns posed by the existing structures,” Ubial said.
The Health department said it expects Fabella clients and its staff and the surrounding community to start availing of medical services from the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center and other government hospitals in Metro Manila even as the days of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Medical Center seem to be numbered.