Cotabato hospitals struggle to give medical care amid continuous tremors

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 03 2019 02:50 PM | Updated as of Nov 03 2019 03:08 PM

Patients and residents rest outside a hospital in Makilala town, North Cotabato province in southern island of Mindanao on October 17, 2019, after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the island. Geonarri Solmenaro, AFP

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Hospitals in Cotabato are facing tough challenges in giving medical care as patients continue to stay in tents outside of the hospital buildings due to tremors still being felt in the province.

In Kidapawan Medical Specialists Center, the biggest hospital in the city, doctors are in a bind to keep a 7-month old infant alive in a tent not conducive to pre-term delivered infants.

“Talagang hirap kami ngayon, hindi maganda enviroment kasi mainit, kapag gabi umuulan dito but then ginagawa lahat bg makakaya namin para makasurvive yung baby po,” pediatrician Dr. Baby Ann Taposok said.

“Kasi umuulan kapag gabi, maiinit na mainit kapag araw, so yung kanyang temperature baka hindi namin ma-maintain atsaka yung paghinga ng baby yung ang problema kapag premature, ang kanilang lungs hindi pa kumpleto.”

The mother of the baby boy, Edlyn Macapobre, said she went into early labor because of the stress she experienced with the three earthquakes that struck North Cotabato.

“Yung first lindol talagang shaking then after nun dun nag-start sumakit, after one week lindol na naman," she said.

“Nakita ko sa baby lumalaban naman po, sabi ko laban lang, talagang ganun andito lang kami.” 

In the same hospital, doctors are also trying their best to keep a stroke patient, Edgar Balinas, in stable condition.

He started to experience difficulty in breathing since the first earthquake struck on Oct. 16, but his conditioned worsened when two other strong tremors hit the city.

“Sana ayos na sya, nilabas na ng ICU pero because of that lindol nagtrigger, naglock jaw, ang taas ng lagnat,” said his wife Judine Balinas.

“Sa buong buhay ko hindi ko malimutan nangyari, naglindol, tapos na stroke asawa ko, ganito ulan at init pa,” she added.

The hospital’s Nurse Supervisor, Marissa Daganato, said “hospitals in tents” are not ideal for medical care as this exposes the patients to infections and other diseases. 

Staying in tents also exposes the patients and their families to extreme heat, downpour of rains, and cold weather during the evening, making their recovery slow.

“Sa ngayon kailangan namin additional tent at electric fan kasi mainit din talaga,” Daganato said.

“Tulad kahapon ang lakas ng ulan at hangin maraming watcher at staff nababasa sa ulan.”

She also said, since they cannot go back to their buildings, certain medical treatments were stopped such as the chemotherapy operations for cancer patients and other major surgical procedures.

Around 200 families are staying in this evacuation site in Upper Bala, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur. They face daily problems of sanitation and lack of livelihood. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

In the town of Makilala, hospitals were also damaged forcing more patients to stay in tents as they recover from their illnesses.

Some children are being admitted for stomach pains that is probably due to water contamination. Since the quake, Makilala and other towns have difficulty in accessing potable water.

“Na-landslide sa bundok sa taas, natabunan yung kinukuhanan namin ng tubig,” said Karen May Galope, whose baby was admitted to the hospital Sunday.

“Hina-hydrate natin ang patient, kasi walang masyadong source ng water, medyo nagtatae sya ngayon," pediatrician Dr. Rosalita Sariguamba said.

Sonia Abejo, chief nurse of Makilala Medical Specialists Hospital, said they would send serious and critical cases to Davao City because of their situation and called for help on necessities the patients need.

“Blankets for the patients, kung pwede electric fan, mainit masyado, tsaka water and rice, yung mga iba na for possible discharge na pero wala na sila mauwian, wala na silang bahay," she said.
Cotabato Acting Vice Governor Sherlyn Macasarte said more than relief goods, what they really need are shelters for the homeless.

“Hinihingi namin hindi lang trapal kungdi yung camping tent na maibigay sa isang buong pamilya," she said.

Macasarte, together with the DSWD, distributed thousands of relief goods in hardest-hit Makilala town, especially in areas where people opted to beg on the street to survive their hunger.

As of Sunday, some 35,661 families or 178,305 individuals have been affected by the quake in 200 barangays, according to the national disaster agency.

At least 21 were killed, 432 were injured and 2 remain missing following the 3 earthquakes that shook Mindanao last month.

Local officials, however, placed the death toll at 23, of which 17 were from Cotabato and 6 from Davao region.