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COVID-19 taking toll on hospitals, doctors


Several private hospitals have raised concern over the "alarming" number of doctors and medical staff getting infected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the looming shortage of facilities to attend to the patients, which they said could lead to the crash of the health care system.

This developed as three doctors from Quezon City were found to be among the new COVID-19 cases in the city, according to a report by Sandra Aguinaldo on GMA News' Saksi.

The Philippines, as of March 20, has recorded 230 cases of COVID-19, including 18 deaths.

In a joint statement, 11 private hospitals sounded the alarm over nurses, residents, consultant and hospital employees under the 14-day quarantine.

"A number of our medical colleagues are already hooked to respirators fighting for their lives at various ICUs (intensive care units). Even our ICUs are getting full. Soon, we will have a shortage of respirators," they said.

According to the statement, persons under investigation (PUIs) continue to flock to the hospitals to get tested.

The hospitals added that their regular rooms have been converted into COVID-19 isolation areas, leaving less rooms for non-COVID-19 patients who also have life-threatening conditions.

"We are indeed very scared that we are on our own to face our countrymen in dire need of help," the hospitals said in their statement.

They urged the government to "centralize all efforts and resources into one or two COVID-19 hospitals, adequately-equipped and invested upon by the government."

They said these two hospitals may be designated to receive, screen and treat patients "when the allowable number of the cases per hospital, private and public, is exceeded."

"We are not shying away from our responsibilities, we are ready to take in non-COVID-19 patients of the designated COVID-19 hospitals," they said.

Dr. Jose Antonio Salud, president of the Philippine College of Surgeons, said hospital operations have been reduced because "manpower has been depleted," adding that a number of medical personnel are on quarantine.

"If we continue with the scenario, there will come a time na wala na talagang matitirang doctor," Salud said.

Dr. Maria Gina Nazareth, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, explained, "Mas mabilis na matitingnan ang pasyente, yung speed of patient processing.  Number two, kung may protocols in place, mas efficient na ang mga tao…At pinakaimportante roon, you render better chance of containment."

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said plans are in place to designate the Philippine General Hospital in Manila and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Hospital in Caloocan City exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

If this pushes through, then Duque said non-COVID-19 patients will be transferred to other hospitals.

"Hopefully by next week, midweek, baka maumpisahan na nating tumanggap.  Actually, tumatanggap naman na sila ng COVID-19 patients, but palalawigin na lang para gawing exclusively referral," the Health chief said.

The Lung Center of the Philippines, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and San Lazaro Hospital will still continue to accept COVID-19 patients, who could not be accommodated in PGH, the report said.  —LDF, GMA News