Hospitals still have to expand
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Hospitals in Cebu City remain overwhelmed and there is a need to look into expanding their triage and emergency rooms, said Dr. Peter Mancao, spokesperson of the Cebu Medical Society.

“Puno gihapon ang atong mga hospitals. Wala pa man gihapon nag-expand ang ubang hospitals nato,” Mancao told The Freeman.

(Our hospitals are still full. The other hospitals have not expanded.)

He is hoping that Secretary Roy Cimatu, the Cebu overseer of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), will remind hospitals of the call of the Department of Health (DOH) - 7 to expand their capacity for COVID-19.

When Cimatu first came to Cebu in June to check on the situation here, both private and public hospitals provided daily updates on occupancy. These updates, however, were not sustained.

Based on DOH data released on July 13, Cebu City has 3,338 active classes. Of this number, 1,424 are admitted and 1,914 are in isolation. The city also has a total of 364 deaths.

Last week, though, the Cebu Doctor’s Hospital opened its emergency room extension, which is intended for non-COVID patients. Its main ER will now be utilized for COVID-19 patients.

During that activity, DOH-7 Director Jaime Bernadas thanked the Cebu Doctor’s Group of Hospitals president, Dr. Potenciano Larrazal III, for rising up to the challenge.

Bernadas said the government cannot defeat the virus alone and needs the help of the private sector and the public in general.

For hospitals to expand, additional manpower is needed.

Bernadas said DOH has already fielded over 300 nurses and medical technologists to the hospitals. More doctors are reportedly coming to Cebu to help in the fight here.

In DOH-7’s weekly virtual presser, spokesperson Mary Jean Loreche said at least 433 health care workers have been quarantined after being affected by or exposed to COVID-19. Of this number, 130 are nurses, 46 are doctors, and the rest are hospital personnel.

Mancao said there is also a need to find ways to improve the system especially in the ER – that is, expanding the triage in hospitals – to avoid the long queue and save more lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a triage refers to the sorting out and classification of patients or casualties to determine priority of need and proper place of treatment.

“During infectious disease outbreaks, triage is particularly important to separate patients likely to be infected with the pathogen of concern. This triage SOP is developed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and does not replace any routine clinical triage already in place in healthcare facilities to categorize patients into different urgency categories," CDC said.

While waiting, the CDC has suggested to set-up a “respiratory waiting area” for suspected COVID-19 patients.

Mancao told The Freeman the city government should evaluate its status based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, as far as transmission in concerned, before easing restrictions.

Steps to consider in easing out include evidence that transmission is already controlled; the public health and health system capacities, including hospitals, are in place to identify, isolate, test, trace contacts, and quarantine; outbreak risks; workplace preventive measures; importation risk management; and community engagement. JMO (FREEMAN)

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