Metro hospitals recount pain, cost of water shortage

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2019 11:55 AM

Water containers are seen at a government hospital ward in Pasig City, March 12, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Hospital operators recounted before a Senate hearing on Tuesday how they coped with a water crisis in the capital that had left tens of thousands with little to no supply.

When the taps at the Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City ran dry on March 7 and concessionaire Manila Water could not be reached, patients were asked to buy bottled water to bathe newborn babies, said its head, Dr. Relito Saquilayan.

The hospital sourced water from local government units while Health Secretary Francisco Duque sought the help of the Philippine Red Cross, Saquilayan said. At that time, the hospital had 400 patients.

The hospital spent P100,000 on water containers, P50,000 on bottled water and P260,000 to pump water to overhead tanks.

At the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, which lost supply on March 12, people were asked to conserve water but continue washing their hands, said the department manager of its ancillary services department, Dr. Joseph Jaro.

"We started joking with our staff not to take a bath, not to brush their teeth but only prioritize hand washing. Because in the end… health care is all about hand washing," Jaro said.

"We continued to operate at full capacity even amid the water shortage," he said, adding the hospital did not refuse patients. 

The hospital also shifted to a different dialysis system that did not use much water for new patients, he said.