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DOH Acts on Hospitals' Urgent Request for Decisive Action

Hospitals requested a centralized approach to handling COVID-19.
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The Department of Health (DOH) has designated the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City as the two hospitals that will handle COVID-19 cases exclusively. The move was requested by a network of hospitals through a joint statement urging the government to act decisively. 

According to DOH spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire, the University of the Philippines General Hospital (UP PGH) is also willing to become a central hospital handling COVID-19 cases. 

In a joint statement published online, 13 hospitals urged the government to act swiftly to provide order in the chaos brought by the fast spread of COVID-19. Below is the joint statement by the hospitals:

'An Urgent Appeal for a Unified Approach to the COVID-19 Pandemic'

Allow us to bring to the fore the current state of our healthcare facilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An alarming number of nurses, residents, consultants, and hospital employees are under 14-day quarantine while the number of PUIs (Persons Under Investigation) continue to flock to our emergency rooms every day. Our regular rooms have been converted into COVID-19 isolation areas, leaving less for other non-COVID-19 high-risk patients who also have life-threatening conditions. The panic is escalating, mortality is increasing, our supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are running short, our frontline staff are increasingly getting depleted as more of them are quarantined or physically and emotionally exhausted, and a number of our medical colleagues are already hooked to respirators fighting for their lives in various ICUs. Even our ICUs are getting full. Soon, we will have a shortage of respirators. We have every reason to be scared; we are, indeed, very scared because we feel we are on our own to face our countrymen in dire need of help.

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This unprecedented and escalating medical crisis cuts across borders. The rest of the world, even countries as rich as the United States, are facing the same fears, the same looming threat of shortage of supplies, ICUs, PPEs, and healthcare workers. If we do not put our act together, the prospect of the healthcare delivery systems crashing down is imminent and real. It’s already happening.

As we observe globally, and in alignment with other government efforts, the most effective way to slow down this pandemic is through effective containment and distancing within potentially disease-stricken population. Given the sharp increase of COVID-19 patients per day, we have to act fast, and act now. There is no time for indecision.

Thus, our collective call to action is to centralize all efforts and resources into ONE OR TWO COVID-19 hospitals, adequately equipped and invested upon by government, designated to receive, screen, and treat PUIs and COVID-19 positive patients when the allowable number of the cases per hospital, private and public, is exceeded. We are aware that there is a plan to do this; we are urgently appealing for the DOH to mobilize this plan, challenging as it may be, but which the private hospitals are willing and ready to facilitate.

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Execution of the plan will allow for concentration of resources, speed of patient processing, and efficiency in protocol execution, rendering better chances for infection containment.

With the COVID-19 hospitals in place, the other institutions can then focus on the bigger population who need to be treated for the rest of the other conditions than the COVID-19 infection. They are the ones we need to equally protect and secure from the virus, so that they and their families can also be assured of appropriate treatment detached from any threat of COVID-19 infection aggravating their condition.

The possibilities and power of a network set up like this behooves all of us, in both private and public sectors, to purse this plan soon. We are not shying away from our responsibilities; we are ready to take in the non-COVID-19 patients of the designated COVID-19 hospitals, and if necessary, provide temporary practice privileges to their medical staff whose non-COVID-19 patients will be transferred to our hospitals.

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This is a plan that we push to be realized without delay. Our objective is to put our order and organization on a national scale as we all grapple with dwindling resources, increasing morbidity and mortality, and a decimated healthcare workforce as the virus continues to spread relentlessly.

The joint statement was endorsed by the following hospitals: 

Adventist Medical Center, Asian Hospital Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Fatima University Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, Medical Center Manila, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, The Medical City - Ortigas, St. Luke's Medical Center - Quezon City, St. Luke's Medical Center - Global City, and University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center.

 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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