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Calls swamp One Hospital Command Center
A sign is placed at the emergency entrance of the Makati Medical Center in Makati City as the private hospital reaches full capacity for the COVID-19 cases on Sunday, March 14, 2021.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file

Calls swamp One Hospital Command Center

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - April 15, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The number of COVID-19 patients calling the government’s One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) to seek assistance in hospitalization jumped three-fold over the past months.

“From a daily average of less than a hundred, suddenly a surge of around 400 calls so even the call-takers the coordinators manning the command, not only the hospitals were surprised,” OHCC operations head Dr. Bernadette Velasco disclosed yesterday.

She said the OHCC gets multiple calls from panicky patients experiencing difficulties in finding hospitals or isolation facilities.

Each call is assessed for endorsement: asymptomatic cases go to isolation facilities, mild cases are directed to quarantine facilities and emergency cases are referred to a hospital.

“Upon assessment, we prioritize emergency cases, those needing intubation or oxygen, an average of 10 minutes, but of course with the surge we are finding it difficult and it take hours to bring the patient to a hospital,” Velasco noted.

If admission in hospitals is not possible, Dr. Minguita Padilla advised individuals with mild symptoms to isolate in a room, wear face masks, rest, hydrate, take paracetamol and have plenty of nutritious food and sleep.

Patients should seek medical attention if experiencing warning signs like low oxygen, difficulty breathing, chest pain, recurring fever and disorientation.

Protect health workers

Sen. Imee Marcos called for adequate protection of health workers as she questioned the health and budget departments’ refusal to buy locally produced personal protective equipment (PPE) and protective gear.

“If we don’t take care of those who take care of us, what will become of us when we get sick? And why do the DOH and DBM refuse to buy local, always waiting for those made in China or other imported brands? Our local garment manufacturers are capable of producing gowns and hazmats, with garment exporters having re-tooled on their own to produce PPE,” Marcos said.

For her part, Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units to remain vigilant about cases of discrimination and abuse against health workers.

Hontiveros cited the case of a doctor detained in Rizal for not wearing a face shield while biking, as well as reports of health workers barred at checkpoints and those forced to pay for their own PPE.

“We insist that... discrimination against health workers, especially acts that cause them emotional distress and impede them from their duties especially in an emergency, is a crime against the public’s health,” she said.  – Cecille Suerte Felipe

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