March 2, 2016, 2:03p.m. – THE UST Medicine Student Council has called on Thomasians to “think before they click” amid harsh social media criticism following the incident in UST Hospital involving a resident doctor and a pregnant patient.

“We firmly believe that social media has provided us with great avenues for discourse and learning. However, we should be responsible in using this as an outlet of emotions and grievances. We remind everyone to ‘think before we click’ [and] likewise, refrain from making unnecessary comments and remarks,” said the statement, released on the council’s Facebook page last Feb. 28.

The resident doctor, Ana Liezel Sahagun, was the target of a Facebook post last Feb. 21 by a user named Andrew Pelayo. Pelayo blamed Sahagun for the death of his child, claiming the  doctor refused to admit his pregnant wife to the hospital last Feb. 19 because he could not afford to pay the bill.

In his viral Facebook post, which contained photos of his wife and dead baby, Pelayo said he and his wife were advised to transfer to a government hospital, the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Santa Cruz, because they did not have the required P20,000 needed for admission to UST Hospital. 

He said they went back to UST Hospital upon learning that Jose Reyes did not have an incubator. They were again advised to go instead to a government hospital. Pelayo said that at East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, his wife gave birth to a lifeless child.

A number of doctors and netizens came to Sahagun’s defense, saying the resident doctor was simply bound by hospital policy and could not admit Pelayo’s wife to the privately owned hospital if they did not have enough money to pay for the bill.

Pelayo was particularly criticized for failing to save money for his wife’s childbirth despite nine months of lead time.

The UST Hospital Clinical Division has a “cash-basis” policy, which means all medical procedures and treatments have to be paid for first.

“Ako naniniwala ako doon sa desisyon niya (Sahagun),” said a staff member of the Clinical Division, who asked not to be identified. “If the patient can’t sustain the treatments dahil nga private institution ang UST Hospital at mas mahal dito, mas okay na mag-transfer na lang ng hospital. Mas malayo ang mararating ng pera nila kapag sa government hospital kasi mas mura doon.”

The staff member added that resident doctors under private hospitals do not receive as many benefits as those under government hospitals. “Ang residents ay walang professional fee,” the staff member said, correcting the allegation in Pelayo’s post that resident doctors make money in UST Hospital. 

Pelayo could not be contacted as of press time. He has deactivated his Facebook account. 


Meaning of ’emergency’

The staff member however clarified that UST Hospital extends services in cases of emergencies, and sets aside the cash-only policy.

“Kung emergency ang kaso, kailangang i-address `yun. Wala kang choice kundi tugunan `yun regardless of the cash basis policy kasi life and death `yun. Kailangan nga lang maging malinaw `yung ibig sabihin ng word ng ‘emergency,’” the staff member said.

According to Pelayo’s narrative, doctors said his wife’s birth canal was closed and there was still enough time to transfer to another hospital.

“Kung bukas na bukas na `yung daanan ng bata, `yun ang urgent. Pero kung hindi pa naman mukhang magle-labor `yung patient at stable naman, ia-advice na mag-transfer. Advice lang. Hindi naman itataboy,” the staff member explained.


‘No-media’ policy

However, netizens still urged UST Hospital to review its policies. On Feb. 28, a hacker group called Global Security Hackers took down and defaced the UST Hospital website, with a statement criticizing Sahagun and calling on hospital officials to investigate.

Dr. JM Lopez, president of the House of Staff of UST Hospital, an organization of residents, said the issue was already being investigated by the hospital administration. “It is under investigation. That’s all I can tell you,” Lopez told the Varsitarian in a phone interview. 

The Varsitarian tried but failed to get an official statement from the hospital administration. The office of Dr. Eduardo Caguioa, UST Hospital medical director, said they were following a “no-media” policy. Alhex Adrea M. Peralta


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