(First of two parts)
Her labor pains were over.
But 31-year-old Leona Satinitigan had to endure yet another struggle while recovering in a government hospital.
Satinitigan had to rest with three other mothers in the same bed.
“Upat na kaadlaw human ko manganak apan wala pa gihapon ko makahigda og tarong (It's been four days since I gave birth but I haven't really lied down with my entire body on the bed),” she told Cebu Daily News.
Satinitigan, a resident of San Fernando town in southern Cebu, was among the hundreds of patients at the obstetrics ward of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
“If your bedmate goes up, the other can rest. We just have to agree. But if one is strict, others have to suffer,” said Satinitigan who gave birth to her seventh child early this month.
Visitors may stay inside the ward for a few minutes before they'll have to leave the crowded room.
“Five minutes is too long for visitors to stay here. Our watchers stay outside,” Satinitigan said.
At the hallways of VSMMC, several people lying on hospitals beds can be found.
They couldn't be accommodated inside the rooms which are already full.
“Kapin usa ka semana na mi diri, (We’ve been here for over a week now) said Angela Aljano, a resident of Medellin, in northern Cebu.
She has been taking care of her husband who has a lung problem.
Aljano’s husband was among the 20 patients stationed in one of the hallways of VSMMC.
Although services and confinement are free, the lack of medical staff, beds, rooms, and even equipments as well as the failure to provide immediate assistance to patients have been confronting government-owned hospitals.
Dr. Joseph Alesna, chief of the VSMMC's Office of Special Concern, said their services have improved in the past few years.
“We are trying our best to serve as much as we can. We are doing this for our country,” Alesna told CDN.
Presently, VSMMC has around 1,500 employees, including nurses, doctors, and staff members.
Alesna said the number has increased from just 800 employees years ago.
He said they have requested the Department of Health (DOH) to increase VSMMC's “bed capacity” which has been a continuing problem of the hospital.
VSMMC, formerly known as Southern Islands Hospital, is set to celebrate its centennial anniversary next year.
“Service can be at one end worse or excellent at the other end of the spectrum. The judge is always the customer,” Alesna said.
“The worst service given may be good enough or satisfactory for others while the best or excellent service might not be satisfactory to others. It is therefore important that we should be sensitive to the needs of others so that we can appropriately give what is needed,” he added.
Unlike other patients, 67-year-old Rogelio Abanilla has nothing against the services provided at the VSMMC.
“Maayo na lang ni nga hospital. Ang mga pobre makaduol diri. Maayo man sila mo-atiman (This is a better hospital. Poor people can take refuge here. They take care of their patients well),” Abanilla said.
But he said it is necessary for a hospital not to be overcrowded.
“What is important is enough space for sick people. Their illness will aggravate if the hospital is overcrowded,” said Abanilla.
His 17-year-old daughter underwent blood transfusion at VSMMC after giving birth.
Abanilla's daughter said they have no choice but to sleep side by side other patients in one bed.
What can we do? We tried to complaint but the nurse said 'You have no coice but to another patient sleep beside you. It would have been better if one patient will be accomodated for one bed so we can rest well,” she said.
Zenaida Galan, 32, gave birth to a baby girl at the VSMMC.
She too had to share a bed with other patients.
Four mothers had to position their heads on one side of the bed while their feet are left hanging on the other side.
Galan said it’s also hot whenever there are several visitors coming inside the room.
“Lisud kaayo. Agwantahon na lang. (It's really very difficult but we have to bear it),” she said.
*Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter
(to be continued)