MANILA — The Philippine General Hospital said on Monday it might take up to 4 months to fix the facility that supports its surgeries, which was damaged by a fire that prompted the evacuation of hundreds of patients, including those who suffer from COVID-19.
The blaze broke out soon after midnight on Sunday at an operating room supply area (ORSA), where instruments are sterilized and equipment is stored. The fire destroyed 5 sterilization units and might have caused structural damage, said PGH Director Dr. Gerardo "Gap" Legaspi.
"Ang tantiya po namin, mababalik ang normal na operasyon ng ORSA, siguro mga 3 o 4 na buwan po, with the construction considered," he said in a public briefing.
"Pero hindi po namin hihintayin iyon para makapag-opera ulit," said the doctor.
(We estimate that operations of the ORSA will return to normal in perhaps 3 or 4 months, with the construction considered. But we will not wait for that to do operations again.)
The PGH, which is the country's largest COVID-19 referral facility, is collaborating with other hospitals for adjustments to restart operations on a regular basis, Legaspi said.
Its surgeries will remain suspended for 1 or 2 more days. It will take around the same time for the PGH emergency room to return to normalcy, he said.
The fire bureau has yet to determine what caused the fire. The PGH suspects the cause is electrical because staff members said the fire flared from the ceiling, said Legaspi.
He pegged the cost of damage to equipment at "P50 million upwards."
Around 100 patients who were evacuated as smoke rose from the third floor have returned to their designated wards and rooms, PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas Del Rosario said in a separate interview.
The PGH is “honored” by the assistance from the public in its “greatest time of need”, said Legaspi.
The hospital has more than 1,300 beds and treats 600,000 patients a year, it says on its website.
With more than 1.1 million infections and deaths in excess of 19,000, the Philippines ranks second in Southeast Asia in terms of COVID-19 cases.
– With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters