Probe on ZSMC fire starts

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The investigation on October 31 fire at the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center (ZSMC) began Monday with specialists and investigators from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) taking a close assessment on the serviceability of machines at the Philippine Red Cross Zamboanga del Sur-Pagadian City Chapter Headquarters in Pagadian City.

Luther Villaflores, OIC Administrator of the PRC chapter, told MindaNews in a telephone interview that he and his team managed to withdraw right away 158

blood products from the storage refrigerators and distribute them to hospitals within the province that were at closer range from the local blood bank.

“Red Cross Zamboanga City Laboratory released the results yesterday (November 7) of the 40 samples we sent from the bloodletting activity on Saturday that we immediately sent to Zamboanga City for blood processing and examination,” Villaflores said, stressing that “none was reactive to Hepatitis A, Hepatitis C, malaria, syphilis and HIV, thus ready for dispense.”

Fire broke out at the basement of the ZCMC, where some 148,000 COVID-19 vaccines were stored, along with the neighboring Blood Bank, with four damaged blood products.

The 158 blood products covered platelet, pack red blood cells, whole blood and plasma, that were distributed and delivered to the Pagadian City Medical Center, Isah Medical Center, Cabahug Hospital, Hofileña Hospital, Blancia Hospital in Molave town, and the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center which have their respective blood refrigerators as storage equipment.

The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) offered assistance to the local office, and the Provincial Government has finally acceded to Villaflores’ request for an office cum storage facility at the Provincial Capitol.

Elizabeth Zaballa, Red Cross Secretary-General, assured the local chapter of its support as wiring materials for power supplies have been assessed by the Zamboanga del Sur Electric Cooperative (ZAMSURECO) at 300,000 pesos.

The Blood Bank is not yet back to normal operations as most of its facilities have been damaged due to the extreme heat during the fire.  However, Villaflores said services continue especially on saliva and blood processing, blood donations.

“We are still awaiting results of the investigation to know at least the estimate of damages, and the serviceability of our machines so as to normalize our operations.  We are counting on the companies as they have called, like Abbot, Evolis, Bio-Rad,” he said.

“We hope to resume next week especially for the RT-PCR (or Rapid Test-Polymerase Chain Reaction) for COVID-19, which is most urgent,” he said.

Villaflores said only the blood service facilities in Zamboanga City and the Zamboanga del Sur-Pagadian City Chapter can cater to requests for blood products in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the island provinces of  Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)