Remaining 2 children of mom refused in Bukidnon hospital die

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/6 June) – The two other children of the mother who gave birth to a triplet in an ambulance after being refused in a government hospital in Bukidnon died over the weekend, an official of the Provincial Health Office said.

Gilda Ajoc, provincial coordinator of the PHO’s Maternal and Child Health Program, told MindaNews that Everlita Circulado, the mother, relayed the news today (Monday) when they talked about the latter’s need for financial assistance.

Ajoc said the children were two months premature and were really in critical situation when she saw them last week.

The municipal health officer of Pangantucan, Roston Garces, has asked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in his May 23 letter to look into the case of the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in the municipality of Maramag for allegedly refusing to admit last May 18 a woman expected to give birth to a triplet – a girl and two boys, one of whom died hours after delivery in an ambulance en route to Malaybalay City, some 50 kilometers away.

Garces coursed his letter through board member Marivic Montesclaros, who chairs the SP’s committee on health, so the SP can “formulate policies and guidelines on this matter.”

Ajoc said she is at least happy that the mother did not die in the risky labor during the long trip aboard the ambulance.

She added that the official position of the PHO is that the hospital in Maramag should not have referred the patient to the hospital in Malaybalay as it was too risky.

“They were just lucky the mother did not die,” she added.

She said the attending physician at the BPH Maramag, Dr. Lovely Capuyan, told her that they were looking at the welfare of the babies.

“Since the pregnancy was assessed to be multi-fetal and premature it needs incubators, that is why they were referred (to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center),” she said.

Ajoc said the issue is multi-faceted and should be tackled.

“The hospital should have incubators, so now it can be known and should be provided” she added.

But she said Circulado should have sought medical attention from the Rural Health Unit, even if she said she cannot afford an ultrasound check.

Garces told Ajoc earlier that they have advised Circulado to have an ultrasound inspection following suspicion that she is carrying at least twins.

But the mother did not return to the health center, telling Ajoc later that she did not have the money for it.

Ajoc said the Panganctucan RHU had attended to a similar case earlier, also triplets, only that the mother sought assistance ahead of time. For Circulado, it was too late.

The provincial government of Bukidnon boasts of its health system as among the best in the country. The Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Maramag is considered a secondary hospital expected to cater to the needs of the province’s third district.

Garces, in his letter to Mostesclaros, considered the refusal an “unfortunate event.”

“We pledged our support to the attainment of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) by 2015. So many resources were committed by foreign donors and the government for this endeavor but this unfortunate event is still happening right within government facilities,” he said in his letter, copies of which were furnished to Dr. Teresita Damasco, provincial health officer, and Ajoc.

At a little past noon on May 18, Circulado, 37, sought admission at the town’s Maternity Care Center, where she was observed to have a multi-fetal pregnancy. Attendants noticed vaginal discharge after the patient complained of stomach pain that extended to the back.

By 12:50 p.m. Merlita Ponce, Pangantucan’s rural health midwife, and her team decided to refer the patient to Maramag. Pangantucan to Maramag is 24 kilometers away.

At the emergency room in Maramag, Circulado, accompanied by a team of medical personnel from Pangantucan, was refused admission. They were instead referred to Malaybalay.

“The staff instructed us to wait with the ambulance on standby because the facility does not have the incubator for premature babies,” Ponce said in her report, a copy of which was obtained by MindaNews.

She said she was the one who administered the delivery in the ambulance in between Maramag and Malaybalay.

By 3:11 p.m, a baby girl was delivered as the ambulance reached Aglayan, about 10 kilometers from downtown Malaybalay.

Five minutes later, a baby boy also came out. The third, another boy, came out by 3:20 p.m. but eventually died.

Ponce said this was not the first time the BPH Maramag allegedly refused to admit a patient.

The provincial board has sought the appearance of the BPH, PHO, and rural health unit officials on Wednesday to shed light on the issue. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)