QI of Cebu South
Improving Conditions in a Pediatric Malnutrition Ward
Conditions are wretched in the pediatric ward of a public hospital in Cebu. The rundown facility serves the poorest of the Philippines’ poor, and the service they receive there is abysmal. The entire hospital reeks of filth, human waste, and disease, mainly because it is overcrowded and understaffed. At night, no one staffs the pediatric ward, leaving premature babies to rest unsupervised in cardboard boxes that once held canned goods, warmed only by ordinary table lamps. Other children languish nearby, coughing, crying, and suffering from neglect and malnutrition. It’s no surprise the death toll rises each night.
Although the description seems exaggerated, it does not begin to capture the horror awaiting those who seek medical care in this miserable place. If children suffer malnutrition, they may be out of luck. Designed for seven patients, the malnutrition ward can only accept the most severe cases, leaving the rest for pediatrics, where one nurse attends 50 children. But it’s a mixed blessing for a child who enters the “Mal Ward.” One nutritionist works a regular day there; she leaves at 6 p.m., placing bottles in the refrigerator for each of the seven babies. Families tend to their children in the hospital overnight, often removing a bottle for a feeding, leaving it out in the stifling room, and then feeding spoilt milk to babies by morning. The nutritionist often arrives for work to find a patient far sicker than when she left the night before.
The Cebu South Quota club has already launched an effort to address issues in the Mal Ward. They installed exhaust fans to provide some air circulation, because the hospital is not air conditioned. The club is currently working to hire and pay the salaries of three nurses to work in the Mal Ward nights and weekends. To address the problem of food poisoning, nurses will prepare bottles for patients every three to four hours, rather than every 24 hours, and the club will train parents in hygiene and proper food handling and provide equipment for sterilizing bottles.
The club would like to provide antibiotics and other medicines for the Mal Ward but does not want to raise false hopes for families. Donations will first help staff the ward and purchase equipment. If funds through the We Share Foundation’s Club-to-Club World Service program are plentiful, Cebu South Quota members may be able to supply medication as well.
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