11 hospitals warn healthcare system could crash

ELEVEN private hospitals and medical centers in the Philippines on Friday, March 20, warned that the country’s healthcare system could crash as Covid-19 cases continue to rise and called on the government to immediately mobilize designated hospitals.

In a joint statement titled "An Urgent Appeal for Unified Approach to the Covid-19 Pandemic", private hospitals and medical centers said the surge in the number of patients has severely hampered frontline workers and hospital rooms, as well as caused a lack in personal protective equipment (PPE).

"We have every reason to be scared. We are, indeed, very scared because we feel that we are on our own to face our countrymen in dire need of help," they stated.

"This unprecedented and escalating medical crisis cuts across borders. If we do not put our acts together, the prospect of the healthcare delivery systems crashing down is imminent and real. It is already happening," they added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said that talks are ongoing to designate the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital and Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium (formerly Tala Sanitarium) as Covid-19 hospitals in Metro Manila.

The Lung Center of the Philippines has also pledged to set aside 40 beds for Covid-19 patients.

In their statement, the hospitals said that having designated facilities will allow the other hospitals to focus on the bigger population, who need to be treated for other conditions.

"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," they said.

They noted how an alarming number of nurses, resident doctors, and hospital employees are being placed under the mandatory 14-day quarantine, leaving their manpower severely depleted.

Add to this, they said, are some medical professionals already hooked to respirators fighting for their lives.

The number of patients under investigation (PUI), meanwhile, continues to increase. Supplies of PPE as well as hospital equipment are already running short.

"The mismatch between the exponential surge of patients and the available healthcare workers is no longer occurring in just one center, but in all our respective institutions," said the hospitals.

"We share information and coping mechanisms, but we cannot share resources that we no longer have," they added.

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

As of Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) said it has listed 217 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 17 deaths. There are also 380 PUIs and 4,929 persons under monitoring.

The signatories are handling nearly half, or 106, of the 217 cases. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)