Fire hits Davao mental hospital

Subscribe Now May 23, 2013 at 08:10am

A FIRE razed the Department of Psychiatry of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) along J. P. Laurel Avenue Wednesday morning.

The fire displaced 197 patients while the damage was placed at P2 million.

Senior Fire Officer 4 Orencio Grado, fire investigator of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Davao, said the fire started at 6:36 a.m. at the Occupational Therapy Office, which was located under the mezzanine floor of the hospital.

"Pagrespond namo sa area, dako na ang kalayo. Paspas nikalat ug nidako ang kalayo which is dili dayon mapatay-patay sa atong mga kabomberohan ilabina ang hospital was made pa on a combustible materials," Grado said in an interview with Sun.Star Davao.

The Davao Mental Hospital was one of the oldest buildings in Davao City. It was constructed in 1917 and during World War II, it was occupied by the Japanese imperial army until the American forces took it from them.

The building became a Davao Public Hospital until an act renamed the facility into Davao General Hospital sometime in 1949. Later in 1959, it was renamed again into Davao Regional Medical and Training Center and by 1960 it started to serve psychiatric patients as an out-patient basis.

Grado said the initial investigation indicates an electrical overload had caused the blaze. He added such big blaze gave the firefighters a hard time to put it under control.

Firefighters of the BFP, 911 Rescue Units, Filipino-Chinese Volunteer Fire Station, and Volunteer Green Fire Station, among others that responded to the area on J. P. Laurel Avenue, were able to control the fire around 8:50 a.m.

"Halos tanan na sunog jud. Kung mapansin nimo naa na bilin pero duha ka building nalang, unya that building serves as office ra nila. From male and female wards to rehabilitation rooms ug uban pa, nangasunog jud," Grado said.

He said no one was hurt in the fire as hospital authorities had secured all their patients.

A total of 197 patients of the Department of Psychiatry of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) were temporarily relocated in its out-patient building after a huge fire razed the only mental hospital in Mindanao.

Dr. Leopoldo Vega, SPMC chief of hospital said the out-patient building of SPMC located along Dumanlas Road in Buhangin District cannot accommodate all 197 patients.

Vega said he is hoping that immediate action shall be taken as soon as possible, adding that they have long been asking the National Government to allocate funds for the renovation of the building, which is used to be the former Davao General Hospital since 1917, but nothing was provided for.

Not all patients are from the Davao Region as it is the only mental hospital in Mindanao. It also serves patients who are natives of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, and among others.

Dr. Ricardo Justol, SPMC chief administrative officer, said patients were immediately given prescription to avoid any violent reaction.

One thing the SPMC officials worry is that the hospital has no back-up files of the records.

Fire Inspector Rodolfo Alocelja, chief of the investigation and intelligence section of the Bureau of Fire Protection 11, said the total cost of damage reached P2 million.

He said that almost all structures made of dilapidated wood, except for the multi-purpose hall and the gymnasium, were destroyed.

Alocelja said, based on their initial investigation, the fire caused by a faulty electrical wiring that broke out in the operational therapy of the female ward and spread to the adjacent buildings.

Elmer Punzalan, assistant secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) immediately fled to Davao City to assess and resolve the problem.

The central office, in coordination with DOH-Davao Region, will resolve the displacement of 197 patients.

Dr. Josephine Villafuerte of the City Health Office said the city is ready to provide whatever service needed for the displaced patients. (Ivy C. Tejano and Arianne Caryl N. Casas)

The displaced patients are temporarily evacuated at the main building of (SPMC).


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