Covid-19 patient: ‘It is not like a hospital here’

Wenilyn Sabalo

WITH the daily reports on the number of new Covid-19 cases and the increasing number of admissions in hospital and in isolation facilities, one may wonder how it feels to be confined to a government quarantine center.

To decongest hospitals, local officials in Cebu and some private benefactors worked together to put up not only one, but three community quarantine centers in Cebu City that will cater to mildly symptomatic Covid-19 patients in Cebu.

These are the Bayanihan Field Centers at the old campus of the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu along Gen. Maxilom Ave. in Brgy. Lorega San Miguel, the field center at the IEC Convention Center (IC3) and the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) on 2014 M. Logarta Ave., Cebu City.

John, an alias, 37, and a resident of Brgy. Kasambagan, Cebu, spoke with SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, to share his experience during his first five days of stay at the CCQC as a Covid-19 patient.

The excerpt of the phone interview below has been translated from Cebuano to English and has been edited for clarity and brevity:

How were you admitted to the CCQC?

I went to a cluster clinic on June 15 where I was swabbed. It is best to go to a cluster clinic if you have the symptoms. They have physicians there who can check and diagnose you. If they see that you deserve to be swabbed, they will swab-test you.

They prescribed antibiotics, cough medicines and vitamins. After that, they advised me to stay at home while I wait for the results. Since I have the symptoms, I also informed our barangay so they would also be aware.

While waiting for the swab test result, most of my friends gave me contact numbers and advised me to go to a hospital. They tried to call an ambulance, but the problem, as we know, is that it is not that easy to be admitted in a hospital now. So, I just waited for my results while making follow-ups using Covid-19 hotlines.

Morning of June 18, I received a phone call from the barangay health center informing me that my result was positive. They fully explained that I didn’t have to be afraid and there are processes to follow like taking me to an isolation facility and disinfecting my place. I was taken to the CCQC that night.

How is your stay at the CCQC so far?

So far, it is improving since it is fully air-conditioned here. Their comfort rooms are clean and tolerable. They also installed smart televisions in every corner of the facility so that patients would not get bored. They also have Zumba sessions here every morning.

Do you have any idea of how you could have contracted the disease?

I cannot really tell how. I have no direct contact with others who tested positive for the virus.

What symptoms did you have?

First, I had fever. I thought it was just common fever, but gradually, other symptoms came out. There came the cough, body malaise, severe headache, shortness of breath and loose bowel movement.

Were you hesitant to have yourself tested for Covid-19?

Yes, I was afraid. I was expecting to be brought to a school (barangay isolation center). I even brought sleeveless clothes because I did not think it would be air-conditioned here. I was expecting worse, but gladly, it turned out to be best that I agreed to be isolated.

If you have symptoms, don’t rush to the hospital. For me, don’t fear. Try to coordinate first with your barangay officials. Swab testing is painful, but it is a way to check your condition.

What can a Covid-19 patient expect inside the CCQC?

It is not like a hospital here. Once in a while we are given medicines. We have our own monitoring kit (fingertip pulse oximeter, electronic blood pressure and thermometer). I self-learned how to use them since we are the ones checking our own blood pressure and temperature. They (health care personnel) will just check on the data through our monitoring board.

We also have phones in every corner which we can use if we need to call nurses, just like my experience when I arrived here when my oxygen level went low. Upon arrival, we were given 14 pieces of surgical masks and toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush.

The food is great. Although during the first few days, the meals were usually delayed for breakfast and lunch (there was one time we had our breakfast at 9 a.m. and our lunch at 2 p.m.), it is understandable. Lately, it’s now on time.

Are you allowed to socialize with other patients?

Yes. But in every corner, there are reminders for us to keep a distance of at least two meters away from one another and to always wear a mask. Some patients here share their life stories with other patients. We are also allowed to use our phones but we are not allowed to take and post pictures of our fellow patients and the equipment inside the facility.

How much does it cost to stay in a quarantine facility? Do you have to pay?

I tried asking but so far, I think it is for free since those who were discharged said they did not pay anything.