UPDATE, 25 March, 7:34 p.m.: Added Pimentel's statement given to GMA News.
THE head of Makati Medical Center hit out at Senator Koko Pimentel for his 'irresponsible and reckless' actions that he claimed put the staff at risk and derailed the hospital's operations in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement released on Wednesday, MMC medical director Saturnino Javier MD said Pimentel breached the hospital's strict infection and containment protocols when he accompanied his wife to MMC's Delivery Room Complex on Tuesday night.
The senator announced on Wednesday morning that he tested positive for coronavirus.
"By being in MMC, Senator Pimentel violated his Home Quarantine Protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus, unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection," the MMC chief said in a statement.
"As a result, a number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital. The entire Delivery Room Complex will have to undergo decontamination and disinfection before it can be used."
Reached for comment by Senate reporters, Pimentel admitted he accompanied his wife, who is expecting their first baby, to MMC on Tuesday but bared that he left the hospital around 9 p.m. when he received the call from RIMS that he tested positive for the virus.
Before that, the former Senate president admitted that he suffered from fever and other symptoms linked to coronavirus, prompting him to go on self-quarantine. Pimentel added he was tested last March 20.
However, the MMC said by merely going to the hospital, the senator had already "violated his Home Quarantine Protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus, unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection."
In an interview with GMA News, the senator asked for understanding from the public as he claims he is already facing "discrimination."
"Humihingi na lang po siguro ako ng understanding. Siyempre kahit sino namang tao, ama ay magiging excited. Hindi ko naman po alam," he said.
He also tried to justify his actions, saying, "Una sa lahat, hindi naman ako umuubo so hindi ako nakakalat ng droplets. Wala ako ubo so ‘wag masyado matakot."
Here's the MMC statement in full:
'Last night [24 MARCH 2020], the strict infection and containment protocols of the Makati Medical Center Delivery Room Complex (MMC-DR) were breached by a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.
Senator Aquilino Martin D. Pimentel III, whose result for COVID-19 testing turned out to be positive, brought his wife to the hospital for delivery via cesarean section. By being in MMC, Senator Pimentel violated his Home Quarantine Protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus, unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection. As a result, a number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital. The entire Delivery Room Complex will have to undergo decontamination and disinfection before it can be used.
We denounce the irresponsible and reckless action of the senator. He added to the burden of a hospital trying to respond in its most competent and aggressive manner to cope with the daunting challenges of this COVID-19 outbreak. More than anyone else, Mr. Pimentel should have realized the ardent desire of every well-meaning Filipino and every dedicated healthcare institution to contain the spread of infection. His admonition for everyone to observe social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands and personal hygiene are nothing but empty rhetoric because he himself violated all those.
By his actions, he contributed no solution. In fact, he created another problem — for Makati Medical Center, the very institution which embraced his wife for obstetric care.
We assure the public that the Makati Medical Center Delivery Room Complex has been decontaminated and disinfected and is now ready for use. The involved healthcare workers have been duly identified, evaluated, and will be quarantined, if the risk of exposure warrants it.
We fervently pray that none of our healthcare staff will acquire the viral infection. As we make this wish, we plead and urge everyone to do his share in quelling the spread of this infection — especially our nation’s duly elected leaders.'