Monday after Easter

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - April 5, 2021 - 12:00am

Lent is always a pretty somber season for us. But Monday after Easter should be a day of great joy. The empty tomb assures us that Jesus Christ has completed His mission for our eternal salvation.

Today, we emerge from Lent still haunted by a large shadow of death from COVID-19. What should give us hope in the midst of this pandemic?

The prophets of the Old Testament taught us that it is precisely in the darkest moments we must look to God’s promises for renewed hope. The bigger the problem, the greater the glory of God’s redemptive work.

The truth of the gospel shines most brightly in dark times. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

The situation is indeed grim for us at NCR Plus as we face one or more weeks under ECQ. This is the worst we have seen of the pandemic.

Eckie Gonzalez, chairman of The Medical City, wrote in our Viber group that “if you check ICU capacity, peak August moved to 65 percent. Now, with additional room openings this is still up to 80 percent (in reality 100 percent).

“This is why the hospital discussions now are triaging end of life choices, i.e., who should get the scarce hospital bed, and palliative care for the patients with very low chances of survival.”

In other words, doctors are being forced to play God: deciding who gets a chance to live and who dies. So unfair to the doctors, who I am sure, do not want to make such life and death decisions.

We all feel helpless because we know the government has no capable manager on top of the pandemic response. I now feel strongly that Sec. Sonny Dominguez should be made overall pandemic czar, with all the alphabet soup task forces and DOH reporting to him.

Sec. Sonny is not a doctor, but neither are the generals, and Duque is acting more like a politician than a doctor. At least Sec Sonny is one tough manager who is very intelligent and very demanding of results. Since he also holds our wallets, having him on top provides a seamless response that should work.

Best of all Duterte trusts him.

Stories of sickness and death filled our minds this past week. Here is one that I edited to fit my space and removed names to protect privacy.

“When I started feeling the tremendous symptoms two weeks ago and knew I had to get tested, I called a doctor friend at the emergency room at St. Luke’s. My driver dropped me off in St. Luke’s at around 11:15 p.m. – and I did not expect to see what I saw.

“This isn’t hyperbole: there was a vast assembly of terribly sick people lined up on chairs along the driveway coughing, shaking, beaten down by the virus – all waiting for their turn to get medical attention. Till then, none of them were allowed to even enter the ER.

“I think it’s important to emphasize that what you see is only part of what sucks… you arrive with the most violent of shivers, a skyrocketing fever, body aches, cough so dry it feels like sandpaper in your throat, and your shirt drenched in so much sweat as you take your spot in a daunting line composed of other people going through the exact same thing – all waiting JUST TO BE TESTED. It didn’t feel real…

“It was finally my turn to get tested. I was still trembling from the fever. I then waited for five hours on a chair connected to an IV drip as I didn’t want to go home without my results.

“The nice nurse came back. Positive for COVID, with pneumonia in your right lung, he said… Feeling even sicker after the news, I then called my doctor friend and asked him if it was possible to be admitted immediately.

“He said that he would do anything for me if he could, but the admission line just for that night alone was already 35 people deep. So, I had to find another hospital to be admitted. (Upon understanding the situation, I complied right away and waited my turn.)

“… two weeks later on my final day of quarantine at Diliman Doctors Hospital, I picked up my discharge papers, and headed home healed and happy as a very lucky, once-extremely symptomatic COVID survivor.

“My doctor friend said his grandmother didn’t make it. She died literally the day after I got tested at St. Luke’s. That the surreal experience lent itself quite overwhelmingly to a sinking feeling of helplessness.

“The dad of a sports analyst passed away also at St. Luke’s. He was waiting in the exact same area I was. I read so many Facebook eulogies and COVID stories while I was in isolation… This is the analyst’s account I’ll always remember:

“’If you still don’t think this virus is as lethal as it can be, please believe me: it is. The entrance of the ER of the hospital was so full that the ambulance had to stop on the road and the medical staff had to come out to the driveway to attend to them.

“’There were people lined up on the driveway (socially distanced) trying to get tested and seek advice from the medical team. During the four hours I sat outside on the ramp waiting for the doctors to come out and talk to me, I saw a lot more ambulances arrive.

“’When they sent me to the admissions office to straighten out the paperwork to get my dad out of the morgue, I overheard the staff talking to people on the phone trying to make arrangements for their family members…’

“I hope this first-hand account brings a higher clarity to the now inescapable hospital capacity disaster we all have to face…”

From journalist Tony Lopez: “for a change we should lock down Duque and Galvez, isolate them and get instead new people with new ideas. Otherwise, we will have cycles of lockdowns over the next three years.”



Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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