Editorial: Strained

IT IS a welcome move to have the anti-Covid-19 task force’s top brass in Cebu City, now the storm’s eye, to see for themselves ground realities. This is the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-MEID) Resolution 47, dated June 19, 2020, in action.

The resolution sends a team to “evaluate the ground-level response of the Cebu City Local Government Units,” short of saying local officials may step aside while the big boys snoop—yes, in the heat of doubling cases, depleting and strained health care manpower and hospital beds filled to the rafters.

It still puzzles us to this day where the confidence of Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella earlier to push against the city’s reversion to enhanced community quarantine came from. He, along with Secretary Michael Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav), shares the brighter narrative of highlighting low mortality and high recovery rates, barometers that were never mentioned in the IATF’s decision to pull the city back to more rigid quarantine.

Following Perpetual Succor Hospital’s (PSH) release of its facts sheets last week, June 18, 2020, Chong Hua Hospital (CHH) followed with its own on June 21, 2020. As of now, two major private hospitals are yet to publicize their stats—UCMed and Cebu Doctors Hospital.

Nevertheless, the numbers from PSH and CHH paint a dismal picture of a strained health care facility. CHH has 45 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 123 are probable cases and 17 suspected. They make a total of 185 patients needing special isolation, which also means requiring a specialized team of nurses and physicians and equipment that are rendered unusable in other areas of the hospital. All the 18 of CHH’s Covid-19-dedicated intensive care unit (ICU) beds are full.

Meanwhile, it has been almost a week now that the PSH released its stats, and in its last report, all of its 34 Covid-allocated ward and eight ICU beds were already full.

While at that, the CHH reports of 46 doctors, 79 nurses and 68 personnel under quarantine. The PSH, on the other hand, has three doctors, 19 nurses and 16 personnel on quarantine. For the two hospitals alone, that makes a total of 231 frontliners under quarantine. We wish to know if there are any of these health care personnel under quarantine who tested positive.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health Central Visayas reported last June 12, 2020, a total of 129 health care workers with confirmed Covid-19 infection. Thirty-five of these were nurses, 16 doctors and 27 personnel.

The DOH said it had deployed newly hired nurses to augment the workforce in private and public hospitals. This is yet to be felt at the front lines. What this entails, as well, is that the DOH will be deploying new nurses with no sufficient training, in highly infectious areas. There will be a scenario where private hospital nurses will be training new ones, who are practically paid more than they are, a demoralizing situation. More than some workers being quarantined, there is also the ground reality of increasing resignations by nurses.

These are just some of the difficult challenges that this fight against the pandemic is being confronted with.