THE Cebu City Government and the Provincial Government are looking for an area that watchers of patients confined at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) can use as a temporary shelter.
Those who had camped outside the hospital have been moved inside the Fuente Osmeña Circle.
City Councilor Dave Tumulak said the City will soon issue an identification card to “valid and authorized” watchers in the area.
The VSMMC management has been urging families of patients not to bring watchers or visitors to the hospital.
It said that it has imposed the “no watchers no visitors” policy since June 9, 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
That’s why they were surprised to find so many people waiting and sleeping outside the hospital, said Rey Cris Panugaling, VSMMC Information, Communications, and Strategy Management head. Majority of them are from Cebu Province, he said.
He said the hospital has many Covid-19 patients since it accommodates patients from both the province and Cebu City.
Panugaling reiterated that watchers or visitors are not allowed unless the patient is a minor or a senior citizen with a chronic condition and is confined in the intensive care unit.
For Covid-19 patients, watchers or visitors are prohibited, he said.
Panugaling said they were not remiss in informing the public about their “no watchers no visitors” policy, having announced it on their Facebook (FB) Live and posted it on their official FB page.
Based on the Expanded Testing Guidelines of the Department of Health Memorandum 2020-0258-A, watchers are included among those who need to undergo a swab test to determine the health condition of everyone inside the hospital.
The VSMMC management also urged watchers who are allowed inside not to bring so many things so as not to crowd the wards.
The hospital has been coordinating with local government units (LGUs) so these can extend assistance to their constituents who have patients at the VSMMC and who have been forced to stay at the Fuente Osmeña Circle.
Those at the rotunda have access to electricity to charge their cellphones so the VSMMC can contact them in case of an emergency.
There are 222 watchers staying inside the circle. A total of 196 are from the province while 26 are from Cebu City.
As much as the City would like to convert a building or a school for the watchers, Tumulak said the circle is the only area near the hospital, which the City can provide.
He said that once the VSMMC is done validating and choosing the authorized watcher per patient, the City is willing to provide buses to ferry the others back to their LGUs.
He said he empathized with the stranded watchers, most of whom accompanied family members who gave birth. Only three accompanied Covid-19 patients, he said.
The City has been providing meals to watchers inside the circle.
Tumulak said the City understood the “no watchers no visitors” policy of the VSMMC, adding that there are nurses to look after patients inside.
On Thursday, July 23, representatives of VSMMC, Cebu City and Cebu Province met to discuss the matter after a photo taken by a SunStar Cebu photographer showing several people sitting and sleeping on the sidewalk outside the VSMMC had gone viral. (JJL, HBL / PJB)