>CEBU CITY — Three newborn babies suffered burns after a bulb of a gooseneck lamp used to keep them warm, exploded at the pediatric ward of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) last Sunday.
The accident has revived calls from a former mayor to close and sell the public hospital.
But CCMC managers said the bulb’s explosion, which happened at 3 a.m. Sunday, was “purely accidental.”
CCMC chief Dr. Eduaro Sedoripa said the three babies were on nasal cannula when the accident happened.
Nasal cannula is a device that delivers supplemental oxygen to a patient with breathing difficulties.
“When the gooseneck lamp exploded, the tube of the nasal cannula caught fire that’s why the babies got burned,” Sedoripa said.
The babies, whose parents’ names are withheld, are all less than a month old and are from barangays Talamban, Adlaon and Buhisan.
The baby who got the worst burns is from Talamban. The 19-day-old baby suffered third-degree burns on his face and is on “guarded condition.”
The baby from Buhisan suffered second-degree burn on his face while the infant from Adlaon has burns on her left extremities. Both are now stable.
Dr. Lee James Maratas, head of CCMC’s pediatric ward, said the babies were confined at the hospital due to sepsis nenatorum.
Sepsis is an infection that spreads throughout the baby’s body and occurs during the first 28 days of life.
In a news conference yesterday, Sedoripa said what happened was an “accident” and unprecedented.
“We cannot do anything about it except address the present situation,” he said.
Asked what caused the bulb to explode, Sedoripa said it could have been over-usage of the lamp.
Maratas said the bulbs of the lamps at the pediatrics ward should only be used for a maximum of 13 hours.
Edgardo Borinaga, engineer III of the CCMC’s maintenance division, said the 100-watt bulb could explode if used for long periods.
But Sedoripa said they are not dismissing the likelihood that the bulb was defective.
Mayor Michael Rama, who visited the victims on Thursday after the Charter Day celebration, instructed Sedoripa to immediately transfer the babies to Chong Hua Hospital.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the babies from Talamban and Buhisan were already at Chong Hua Hospital, while the baby from Adlaon was discharged.
Sedoripa said he told the mayor about the accident last Monday.
“I only brought up the matter with him a day after the accident because the mayor is busy during the Charter Day and at our end here at CCMC, we were still investigating. I didn’t want to provide information to the mayor without proper investigation,” he said.
On learning about the incident, former mayor now Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) reiterated calls for CCMC’s closure.
“This is not an isolated kind of situation. There’s a pattern of blunder in CCMC. There a lot of cases like this, which you will never even hear about. It’s hopeless, we should close CCMC. They do not have a sense of public service,” he said.
Osmeña said he would prefer that the City’s yearly budget for CCMC be used to provide Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) cards to residents and pay private hospitals every time they get to be admitted.
“That’s more efficient and cost-effective,” he said.
Sedoripa, for his part, said they will be taking precautions and will recommend the replacement of old equipment at CCMC.
He also said they will submit to the mayor the results of their investigation.