THE Department of Health’s (DOH) One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) yesterday admitted to having difficulty in endorsing COVID-19 patients because hospitals are already full.
This as the DOH urged hospitals to submit their emergency room admission data regularly to help the government adjust measures during the implementation of the new COVID-19 alert level system in Metro Manila.
The One Hospital Command’s aim is to place emergency patients in hospitals in less than an hour, but due to the lack of hospital beds, sometimes it takes up to four to six hours to do so, an official said on Saturday.
Dr. Bernadette Velasco, operations manager of the OHCC, said their target is to get emergency cases admitted to hospitals in less than an hour. However, in reality, it takes four to six hours before they could bring them to a hospital, she said.
“Admittedly nahihirapan tayo mag-endorse ng cases dahil puno ang mga ospital,” she said.
Velasco pointed out that aside from hospital beds, they also need to book ambulances for patients, adding that they prioritize emergency cases and closely coordinate with hospitals such that as soon as a hospital bed is made available, the patient is quickly brought there so his/her condition can be stabilized.
“Yung mga stable at may time pa para maghanap ng available beds, ine-endorse natin sila sa mga LGU (local government unit) nila para ma-monitor ang kanilang lagay para kung sakaling maging malala ang sitwasyon ay madala sila agad sa ospital,” she said.
The OHCC official said hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR) also accommodate patients coming from Regions 4A and 3.
“Dito dinadala ang mga pasyente dahil ang kanilang mga region, medyo congested na rin po,” she said.
Velasco said they sometimes ask patients if they prefer a government hospital or private hospital.
She added that hospitals in NCR, Cordillera Administrative Region as well as Regions 4A, 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 6, 9 and Caraga are at high risk category.
The official said patients with mild cases of COVID-19 are urged to isolate at home to decongest hospitals.
Meanwhile, the DOH yesterday appealed to the hospitals to submit their emergency room admission data regularly. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the remark after the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) urged the government to fix “inadequacies” in its reporting system.
“Actually, nakapagusap na kami with them. May mga kaunting challenges lang po talaga ang national government for us to be able to get the necessary data especially sa mga emergency room admission. So kami po ay nananawagan sa mga ospital na sana we can regularly get your data on ER admissions para maisama natin ito sa ating mga tinitingnan,” she said.
Vergeire underscored the need for hospitals’ cooperation as the DOH was facing difficulties in monitoring the data of health care facilities all over the country.
“The health professionals po they look at their specific hospitals, we look at the whole country. So pagka ganito ‘yung challenges napakarami po and specifically po yung compliance sa submission ng reports,” she noted.
Currently, the DOH official said the government was looking at other data that would serve as indicators that would give them an idea of how to provide a more “appropriate and sensitive” approach to the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Last Thursday, the HPAAC called on the government to “acknowledge and address” the inadequacies of the data reporting system which serves as the basis for the alert levels.
The health care professionals said that the loosening of restrictions comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging and hospitals are at capacity or over, which suggests that the proposed scheme, which claims to use pandemic severity and healthcare utilization data in deciding the alert level, does not reflect the true situation on the ground.
The group added that health facilities are “overwhelmed, resulting in patients dying unattended at home, in ambulances, or corridors.”
Last September 16, NCR was placed under an Alert Level 4, which the HPAAC said had less strict restrictions than the modified enhanced community quarantine.
The OHCC said hospitals in Metro Manila and nearby areas are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, adding that they receive 400 to 500 calls asking for hospital admission for a COVID-19 patient per day.