‘Can anybody in the Palace help?’
THE so-called One Hospital Command, which publishes its two telephone numbers on social media and newspapers to help relatives of suspected COVID-19 patients find the nearest hospital when in need, is an institution needing assistance itself.
According to Dr. Leopoldo Vega, undersecretary of health and in charge of hospital referrals for patients, the facility is unreachable at times because it has a “very basic setup.” This, we think, is another way of saying that they do not have the needed complement of people, specifically call center agents, and telecom infrastructure to function as the metropolis’ hospital hub.
Interviewed over radio station dzRH, Vega considered themselves lucky for having a command office at the MMDA compound, albeit a temporary arrangement. Many times, the hotlines of the command center (0919-9773333, 0915-7777777 and (02) 886-50500 are busy, and Vega sheepishly confirmed this.
The government’s so-called “treatment czar” explained that the busy signals do not mean that there is no one to answer, but that every one of their 30 telephone personnel is busy attending to calls. The center is literally swamped with callers, day and night, from an average of 70 just last month to some 388 calls a day today.
With that revelation, we now have a clear picture of the deteriorating COVID-19 status on the ground, thus making it necessary to upgrade the hospital referral facility.
Dr. Vega also lamented that they do not have any kind of forward calls towards other units “because our setup is very basic.” He said they are trying to improve this by using more landlines and a PBX (private branch exchange) system to have call forwarding.
The purpose of creating a One Hospital Command in this time of pandemic is to utilize the latest telecom technologies to facilitate the matching of hospitals and patients. If you cannot reach them and your relatives/loved ones needing hospitalization qualify as an emergency case, Vega’s advice is for you to go straight to their MMDA office where help may be available, face to face.
A pitiful problem for any treatment manager, whether czar or Bolshevik. Can anybody in the Palace help?