Critical care capacity hits danger zone
St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and the Makati Medical Center (MMC) yesterday said their respective COVID-19 wards have reached full capacity. Nicole Villamayor
Critical care capacity hits danger zone
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

Makati Med, St. Luke’s announce COVID wards at full capacity

MANILA, Philippines – The critical care capacity of hospitals is approaching the “danger zone” at 70 percent, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday, as at least three hospitals in Metro Manila declared they would no longer accept patients with coronavirus disease.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the number of occupied isolation and intensive care unit (ICU) beds and mechanical ventilators for COVID-19 cases are increasing over time.

“Actually... the capacity right now, the critical bed capacity especially for the ICUs, according to our data, is now in the danger zone, and more than – that was about 70 percent,” Vega said at a press briefing.

St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) in Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and the Makati Medical Center (MMC) yesterday said their respective COVID-19 wards have reached full capacity.

This is the second time the three hospitals have declared full capacity since late March, a few days after the enhanced community quarantine was imposed in Luzon.

Meanwhile, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) said that its utilization of designated bed capacity for COVID-19 patients had reached the danger zone.

“We need to address this and we have to make sure that if ever there is a rise in the number of severe and critical patients, hospitals would be able to adjust in terms of providing critical care and expanding their intensive care units,” Vega said.

Data presented by Vega showed that 573 out of 739 ICU beds have been occupied as of July 8.

“The (number of occupied) ICU beds is increasing gradually. This is one of the reasons why we came up with (a system for) hospital management so we can apportion the number of patients who are (going to) private (hospitals) and who cannot be given access, so we can refer them to public institutions or other specialty centers that handle COVID,” he said.

Vega said the One Hospital System aims to set up COVID-19 bed allocation guidelines to ensure effective minimum and surge capacity in hospitals; establish a data dashboard to enhance visibility and planning of healthcare capacity; come up with a mechanism for admitting and discharging patients across facilities network; expedite treatment payment for COVID-19 patients, and provide a forum for hospitals to discuss and resolve issues.

“The COVID-19 zones of MMC, both the regular wards and the Critical Care Units, and especially the Emergency Room, are now full,” medical director and cardiologist Saturnino Javier said in a statement.

The hospital has accepted patients both suspected and confirmed to have COVID-19, he noted.

Javier previously told The STAR he “feared” a “surge” in COVID-19 infections, depending on the level of community quarantine imposed by government.

In another advisory, SLMC also declared full capacity of the allocated COVID-19 intensive care units in both Quezon City and Taguig City.

St. Luke’s requested that “critically-ill COVID-19 suspects” – or those experiencing symptoms but have not taken any test yet – be brought to other hospitals to receive immediate care, while the MMC gave assurance it would help refer the ill to other hospitals.

The three hospitals also guaranteed that they would continue receiving patients that have medical concerns other than COVID-19, and would advise them when they would open their coronavirus wards again.

The SLMC meanwhile appealed to the public to “avoid complacency and strictly adhere to health protocols and preventive measures against COVID-19.”

Aside from admitting COVID-19 patients, the three hospitals had been accredited by the DOH to process swab tests through real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction machines.

In an advisory, NKTI noted that “despite our continuous efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, we still recorded significant increase in the number of infection rate among healthcare workers, particularly with our frontline personnel, in the last two weeks.”

“Consequently, we humbly request the public and other healthcare facilities to refer their critically ill, probable, or suspected COVID-19 patients to other healthcare facilities for immediate care and management,” the NKTI added.

But the hospital gave assurance that its emergency room staff shall continue to “acutely manage only renal emergency cases and post-kidney transplant patients.” Alexis Romero, Ghio Ong, Sheila Crisostomo

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