City to probe hospitals for refusing admission to late barangay captain

CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella will have an inquiry on the incident that involved Poblacion Pardo Barangay Captain Manolita Abarquez who ended up being confined in a Lapu-Lapu City hospital after hospitals in Cebu City refused to admit her.

Labella directed City Attorney Rey Gealon to coordinate with Abarquez’s daughter to identify the hospitals that refused to admit the village chief.

Labella was assured by Gerardo Aquino, chief of hospital of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), that the hospital has still enough rooms and it has not been overwhelmed yet.

In an earlier interview, former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña said seven hospitals in the city refused to accept Abarquez as the hospitals were already full.

He even tried to get Abarquez to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Chong Hua Hospital at Fuente Osmeña in the morning of June 7, 2020, but there were four other patients on the waiting list of the emergency ward.

Kenneth Cobonpue, Regional Development Council chairman, previously assured that Chong Hua has not reached its alarming level yet and in an interview, he said he still stands by his statement.

To address the concern of Osmeña, Cobonpue said it is normal for hospitals to have limited ICU capacity.

Cobonpue said, “My statement was about Chong Hua having enough bed capacity and as of today, I still stand by my statement. Ex-mayor Osmeña is talking about the ICU capacity which is naturally limited in every hospital.”

He added, “I am not the spokesman of Chong Hua Hospital, and neither do I claim to be a medical expert. However, it doesn’t take a doctor to know that Chong Hua Hospital, whose Cebu branch alone has a total capacity of more than 600 beds, will be able to adequately attend to Covid patients, as the compelling need arises.”

SunStar Cebu also tried to get the statement of Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas director Jaime Bernadas, but the health office still has to get facts about what happened.

In a Facebook post of ABS-CBN’s Maayong Buntag Kapamilya on June 7, Talisay City Planning Officer Ariel Araw-araw, Abarquez’s close friend, said the barangay captain had severe pneumonia.

However, as of writing, there is no confirmation yet on Abarquez’s cause of death. She was swab-tested, but the result was not yet available as of press time.

Former councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, partymate of Abarquez under Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), said what happened to Abarquez was alarming, knowing that not a single hospital in the city accommodated the late village chief.

On her Facebook page, de los Santos said she found the incident as “disturbing facts that raise high risks and expose the vulnerability of the people of Cebu City.”

Abarquez died on June 7 at the age of 63. (JJL)