PUBLIC and private health officials clarified on Monday, June 15, 2020, that there is no shortage of hospital beds for patients infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
However, there is a need to expand the current hospital beds allocated for Covid-19 patients is needed, according to Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health (DOH) 7, and Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, president and chairman of CebuDoc Group of Hospitals.
Four private hospitals operating in Cebu have a capacity of 2,063 regular beds. These are the CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, Chong Hua Hospital, University of Cebu Medical Center and Perpetual Succour Hospital.
Government hospital Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) has 550 beds.
As of Friday, June 12, 394 of 2,613 beds had been allocated to the Covid-19 patients. The same data showed that only 59 of the five hospitals’ 172 total intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity had been allocated for the Covid-19 patients in serious condition.
During the visit of National Task Force Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. last week, hospital operators were asked to expand Covid-19 bed capacity by 30 percent or 200 beds.
Expanded regular Covid-19 beds are now 504 from 394 and ICU beds are from 73 from 59.
Larrazabal and Bernadas explained the current bed capacity in Cebu in an online press conference conducted by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) on Monday, June 15.
Bernadas said the DOH 7’s surveillance data showed an increase in symptomatic patients in the past two weeks, adding that admissions in hospitals increase if symptomatic cases rise.
Last May, a prevalence survey was conducted in the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu through rapid mass testing, which was part of the Opav-led multi-sectoral initiative called Project Balik Buhay.
Health workers collected 45,905 blood samples. Rapid diagnostic testing detects antibodies that the body produces showing a past or current infection but not necessarily Covid-19, while the reverse transcription-polymerase chain (RT-PCR) reaction is the gold standard as it can detect the virus itself.
Bernadas said private hospitals had been reminded before the surge of Covid-19 cases to prepare for a large bed capacity.
Bernadas clarified that hospitals in the city were not overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases, saying they only need to expand and augment the beds to cater more patients.
He said private hospitals suffered a shortage of nurses as some of them transferred to government hospitals for a better pay, while others transferred to call centers.
Last March, Larrazabal said most hospitals downsized their bed capacity because there were no Covid-19 patients yet. But when the admissions of Covid-19 patients increased in subsequent weeks, most hospitals were not prepared because they only allotted a few beds.
“So, now it’s basically a catch-up game,” he said.
A Covid-19 patient often stays in the hospital for two to three weeks, Larrazabal said.
One reason for a patient’s longer stay in hospital is the government’s requirement that prevents a patient from being discharged unless he yields two negative RT-PCR test results. However, this was recently reduced to only one negative test result. The other reason was some patients opted to stay longer in the hospital even if they were already given a clean bill of health because the barangays where they live or the patient’s relatives refused to accept them.
New CDUH wing
On Monday, June 15, Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital (CDUH) in Cebu City opened a new wing that has 12 more beds for mild to moderate cases and two slots for ICU. On the lack of nurses, Larrazabal thanked Bernadas for providing 10 government nurses to CDUH.
Earlier Chong Hua Hospital had promised to raise its bed allocation for Covid-19 patients by 300 percent and its ICU beds by 100 percent. The hospital’s statement did not specify the number of beds.
Meanwhile, Cebu City’s asymptomatic patients comprise 80 to 90 percent of the active cases, and they were either on home quarantine or placed in Barangay Isolation Centers (BICs), according to Mayor Edgardo Labella.
The city has 48 BICs with 2,896 beds. So far, 1,923 beds remain vacant.
Data from the Office of the City Administrator shows that the 17 BICs in the south district have 1,562 beds, 13 BICs in mountain barangays have 256 beds and 14 BICs in the north district have 1,078 beds.
As of June 15, a total of 1,053 patients have been staying in the BICs.
Since the activation of the BICs last April, 1,082 recovered patients have been released from the BICs, said Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr.
The three quarantine centers in Cebu City admitted 89 persons with Covid-19 mild to moderate symptoms.
Of these facilities, the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) in the North Reclamation Area has the most number of persons, with 50 admitted there as of June 15.
Thirty-eight individuals were admitted in the Bayanihan Cebu Field Center at the old Sacred Heart School for Boys campus on Gen. Maxilom Ave. and one person admitted in the second Bayanihan Cebu Field Center located inside the IC3 Pavilion in Barangay Mabolo.
Both Bayanihan Centers accomodated 10 individuals with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms on Sunday, June 14. On the same day, the Covid-19 symptoms shown by a person disappeared.
The Bayanihan Center in the old Sacred Heart School for Boys campus has 48 beds, while the one at the IC3 Pavilion has 130 beds.
The CCQC can accommodate 166 individuals, according to Cebu City Medical Center administrator Yvonne Cania, who also serves as manager of the CCQC.
Cania said the admissions in the facility increased in the past days, adding that most of the referrals came from VSMMC.
The Cebu City Government has set aside P50 million for the operation of the CCQC, said Cania.
The DOH 7 accredited these three quarantine facilities that have a total of 344 beds. No payments will be collected from the individuals brought to these facilities.
There are three classifications for Covid-positive patients:
Class 1 are patients who are asymptomatic but with no comorbidities. These positive patients are qualified for home quarantine.
Class 2A are patients who are asymptomatic but with comorbidities. Class 2B are patients with mild symptoms. Class 3 are patients who display severe or critical symptoms.
Class 1 patients go to Barangay Isolation Centers, while Class 2 patients go to field centers.
Class 3 patients go to hospitals. (JJL, MVG & PAC)