Duterte tells AFP, PNP to send medical personnel to short-staffed hospitals

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte tells AFP, PNP to send medical personnel to short-staffed hospitals
A military health worker administers a Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine during the vaccination of military personnel at the army headquarters in Manila on March 2, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military and the police to provide medical personnel to short-staffed hospitals as the country continues to wrestle with a rising number of COVID-19 infections.  

Duterte admitted that many hospitals, including St. Luke’s Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, UERM, Medical City and the Philippine Heart Center are already at full capacity. He noted that some of the hospitals' health workers are under quarantine so they can no longer accept COVID-19 patients.

"We have a dearth of supply of the human resource," Duterte said in a pre-recorded public address aired Wednesday.

"I am ordering the medical corps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police...if you are listening to me now...please, place your human resources...on ready, on deck because I can really rely on you," he added.

Hospitals have also reported staff resigning for better opportunities abroad and the Philippine General Hospital reported in September that 20 of 25 volunteer doctors opted not to renew their contracts.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has directed the military's surgeon general to send nurses to St. Luke's. He added that two nurses were immediately deployed to the hospital.

"They (military) are continuously gathering (medical personnel) in the provinces. They are checking whether the (major) services Army, Navy, Air Force can still send nurses," Lorenzana said.

"I think Mr. President, in the coming days, we will have more nurses that we can deploy to hospitals in Manila," he added.  

Citing reports sent to his office, Duterte said 168 healthcare personnel in St. Luke's, 60 in Cardinal Santos Medical Center, 55 in UERM, 84 in Medical City and 33 in the Philippine Heart Center have caught the virus.

"They can no longer accept patients because their workers were also infected," the president said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government is continuously recruiting healthcare workers to ensure that hospitals would have enough personnel who will tend to COVID-19 patients.

As of Wednesday, 77% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, 62% of isolation beds, 71% of ward beds, and 63% of ventilators are in use in Metro Manila.

For the entire Philippines, the utilization rate is 78% for ICU beds, 67% for isolation beds, 72% for ward beds, and 57% for ventilators. 

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