110-bed modular hospital for critical cases launched

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    THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) yesterday opened the 110-bed Quezon Institute Off-Site Modular Hospital in Quezon City to accommodate critical coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

    Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, appearing on public briefing “Laging Handa,” said the QI Modular Hospital units come fully equipped and ready to admit COVID-19 patients immediately.

    Villar said 176 additional beds scheduled to be added to the modular hospital by next month.

    The announcement comes as a relief as health care institutions inside the National Capital Region Plus (NCR Plus) bubble, which is on its second week of enhanced community quarantine, come under heavy pressure from mounting numbers of patients needing urgent medical care.

    Villar said while nationwide the hospital occupancy rate remains at a manageable 50 percent, those in Metro Manila are already at 75 percent occupancy, which is not considered ideal.

    He said the modular hospital structures were started in November 2020 and completed within a month but the support equipment and other necessary fixtures still had to be installed.

    “In total nasa 110 rooms ang hospital, at may 64 units ‘yung facilities for our frontliners, complete with lounge, cooking area, laundry area para sa mga magtatrabaho sa hospital,” the public works official said.

    He clarified that the modular units were built with COVID patients requiring critical care in mind.

    “This is an upgraded version of quarantine facilities designed with high ceiling and each bedroom unit has its independent oxygen supply,” he explained, adding that the modular hospital units has the built-in advantage of mobility.

    Additional features include nurse stations, monitoring station, dressing areas for hospital personnel as well as living quarters for health care front liners.

    “We have drawn up plans for additional quarantine and ICU facilities. We are aware of the need to upgrade our capacity fast. We are working with (Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque and Undersecretary (Leopoldo) Vega to push for immediate operationalization,” Villar said.

    The DPWH chief said his agency has shifted greater focus on NCR to bring down hospital occupancy to the “normal level” or lower than 60 percent.

    Reviewing the DPWH performance, he said 23,000 hospital bed capacity has been completed in various areas of the country, but he is eyeing to buff this number up by another 3,000 to 4,000 more.

    “Our new target is 26,000 beds, most of which will be constructed in the NCR where a capacity upgrade is badly needed,” Villar said.

    Already the DPWH is working on additional 88 beds also at the Quezon Institute and another 88 to be attached to the Lung Center of the Philippines also in Quezon City.

    “We are building this additional 176 bed capacity on target to be completed by next month,” he said.

    President Duterte directed the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to include the confinement of COVID-19 patients in “hospital tents” in its in-patient medical packages amid reports that some hospitals are charging patients for every hour of stay in the isolation tents.

    Some hospitals are reportedly charging patients who are forced to stay in hospitals tents while waiting to be admitted in the hospitals up to P1,000 per hour.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said this means that if the isolation tents are used as part of the in-patient care and treatment, the cost for its use should be charged to the PhilHealth.

    “The President issued a directive to PhlHealth that the health insurance should cover RT-PCR tests, isolation in accredited community isolation units and hospitalization for mild and critical cases of COVID-19. In this regard, if a tent is part of the in-patient care, this should be included in the COVID-19 in-patient package,” he said.

    PhilHeath said their current policies do not cover the stay of patients in “hospital tents.” – With Jocelyn Montemayor