CEBU, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights has stepped into the controversy involving a nurse at the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House, Inc.
CHR Investigator II Lilibeth Llona confirmed yesterday that the commission is now investigating the allegations of a father that the subject nurse has put a tape across his baby's lips because the child was noisy.
The photo of the baby with the piece of tape still covering the lips has gone viral and has drawn countless reactions from netizens, mostly critical to the nurse.
Llona said they found out that the hospital has three nurses attending to 30 babies in the nursery.
"So, the nurse can't really attend to everyone and the rest of the babies were sleeping. So, the nurse was trying to put pacifier to pacify the baby," she said. The plaster was reportedly placed to keep the pacifier from falling out of the baby's mouth.
Llona said the situation is "rare".
Special Investigator IV lawyer. Primo Cadampog, another member of the CHR team, said they also found out that it is not a policy of the maternity center to secure a pacifier with a plaster.
He said they are yet to speak with the child's parents and the commission is willing to assist them should they decide to file a formal complaint against the nurse.
Asked if a formal complaint is in the offing, the baby's father, Ryan Noval, said yesterday, "Eventually, we will get there because right now our main concern is to have baby Yohannes out."
He disclosed that the center has offered them a discount on their bill but they reportedly refused.
"It's not about the money, it's about principle," he said. He said they are capable of paying for all hospital expenses. The baby was released from the hospital late yesterday afternoon.
"He's good. He is actually very well taken care of. No more tape," Noval said yesterday.
He said that while he thinks that the center's response to the incident is "a bit slow", the hospital is reportedly doing what it can to settle the case.
"It's not a specific amount of time but I think I made it clear to them that I would not be satisfied if it took longer than a week. I actually expect results now but I know that's impossible," Noval said.
He said the center's officials were "shocked" upon hearing the incident from him and his wife during a meeting.
"So, they took that all in and hopefully the management is going to learn and react or do something about it," he said.
He said they have not met the nurse again.
"You could forgive and forget but you can't really do that, [it would be] forgive and remember. But dili nga bati na feeling so that is why we also choose not to ever mention any name. We're not going to give out any name," he said.
Two days ago, the Department of Health also opened its own investigation into the incident and confirmed yesterday it has sent a letter to the hospital to ask for a copy of the incident report.
DOH Public Information Officer Ruth Suzette Jabonete said they have also asked for copies of the center's policies and procedures that govern its neonatal intensive care unit, as well as the patient's chart.
Jabonete said she and Dr. Philip Yray, Jr., a member of the fact finding committee from DOH, handed the letter personally to the center's management.
"They wanted to clear their name gyod kay they have been serving the community for quiet so long," Jabonete said.
If the nurse indeed used a pacifier on the baby, Jabonete said the same may put the nurse and the center in trouble because using a pacifier is a "no-no" for DOH.
She said assessment for the hospital's 'Mother Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Certification' is still ongoing. A requirement of the DOH before a hospital's license can be renewed, assessment would determine if the hospital meets the guidelines for successful breastfeeding, one of which is the non-use of pacifiers on newborns.
The license is renewed in October.
"Hatagan paman nato sila og chance kay dili man pod ta ana ka strict," Jabonete said.
The DOH certification is proof that a birthing establishment is fully capable of fulfilling its functions. with Michael Vencynth H. Braga//JMO
In a related development, the Integrated Provincial Health Office believes that personnel in birthing centers and government-run hospitals in the province are capable of handling newborns.
"It may not be necessary as our hospital and birthing center personnel know their duties and responsibilities. In a government-operated health facility, our service providers are even more careful. Kusog or paspas man sab ang reklamo gud sa gobyerno. So magbantay sab gyod ta," IPHO chief Cynthia Genosolango said in a text message to The Freeman.
There are 16 government-owned hospitals in the province, at least 10 can perform surgical operations after having been upgraded to level one by the DOH.