THE Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, another hospital under the Department of Health in Metro Manila, yesterday reached full capacity for its beds dedicated to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients and 200 percent capacity for its emergency room.
“We are currently not accepting walk-in and uncoordinated transfer of COVID-19 patients as well as elective surgical and non-emergency medical non-COVID patients,” it said.
LCP spokesman Dr. Norberto Francisco said the hospital actually reached full capacity two weeks ago.
“We are not just full. We are very full. In fact, the hospital has been full for the past two weeks, at least,” he said in a radio interview,
He said the LCP has undertaken all possible means to continue accommodating patients.
“We are just trying to find ways to handle severe and critical patients by adding more beds, stretchers, reclining chairs, oxygen supply, IV lines, and infusion pumps,” he said.
LCP has a 200-bed capacity, of which 55 percent are dedicated to COVID-19 patients.
Earlier, the Philippine Orthopedic Center and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute declared full capacity for its COVID-19 beds.
LCP’s fellow COVID-19 referral hospital, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), said it has 216 COVID-19 patients admitted — 212 confirmed COVID-19 cases, three probable cases, and one suspected case.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the DOH gave the assurance that all 17 of its hospitals in Metro Manila are operational.
“Some DOH-retained hospitals have suspended elective surgeries and outpatient department operations to ensure that the most critical services continue,” said the DOH.
Aside from hospitals in Metro Manila, the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc (PHAPi) yesterday said those in nearby provinces are also beginning to fill up.
In a radio interview, PHAPi president Dr Jose de Grano said private medical facilities in Cagayan Valley (Region 2), Central Luzon (Region 3), and Calabarzon (Region 4-A) are also starting to be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
“When we checked, not only in the NCR, but also in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Cagayan Valley have fully occupied hospitals,” he said.
He said that many of the patients are only mild COVID-19 cases but are still confined in hospitals.
“These hospitals have nowhere else to transfer their patients,” he said.
He reiterated that while actual beds can still be made available for COVID-19 patients, the problem is a shortage in healthcare personnel.
“Even though we want to expand, the problem is our healthcare workers are really running short, including those having been infected already,” he said.
The Department of Health said eight of its hospitals have requested for the immediate setting up of modular tents. These are LCP, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center for Quezon Institute, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium (Tala), Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, National Center for Mental Health, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and San Lazaro Hospital.
Data from the DOH shows the healthcare utilization rate in the National Capital Region as of April 3, particularly for ICU beds, was at 80 percent.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has committed to provide Metro Manila with 7,000 additional contact tracers, Interior officer-in-charge Bernardo Florece said.
Florece said the additional contact tracers would be hired by the labor department under its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD program.
Once deployed, the number of contact tracers in Metro Manila would be about 18,000.
“That would be more than than enough… for NCR with 14 million population,” he said.
Asked when the additional contact tracers would be deployed, he said there is yet no date as they have to undergo training first.
The Philippine Red Cross is pushing for the use of schools as isolation facilities.
“We have proposed to partner with the Metro Manila Council in setting up isolation facilities in public and private schools under the jurisdiction of the different LGUs,” said PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon.
He said the initiative aims to help isolate COVID-19 patients, including suspected and probable cases, from their families and prevent family clusters.
“In households, those who go out to work often bring home the virus and transmit them to their parents, elderly, and other family members. Thus, we really need to have them taken out to avoid transmission of the virus,” said Gordon.
Under the program, the PRC will provide ambulances to transport patients to the isolation facilities; set up isolation beds; provide supplementary meals; set up shower rooms; ensure daily monitoring of patients’ condition; and provide ambulance to transport to hospitals patients who, while in isolation, develop moderate to severe symptoms.
LGUs, on the other hand, will coordinate operations of these facilities with the barangay leadership in the zonal areas; assign security personnel for the orderly operations of the facility; provide regular nutritious meals; provide at least one local counterpart to man the area; ensure daily monitoring of household contacts for possible infection (care of contact tracing assistance); and coordinate with local government hospitals for the immediate confinement of patients transferred from these isolation facilities.
Gordon said NCR mayors have committed their cooperation with the PRC on the project. – With Victor Reyes and Raymond Africa