39 staff of Philippine Heart Center listed as PUIs
MANILA, Philippines — Thirty-nine staff of the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) in Quezon City have become persons under investigation (PUIs) for the 2019 coronavirus disease after being exposed to a patient positive for the fatal disease who had died in their hospital.
On Thursday afternoon, patient number 37 (PH 37), who was an 88-year-old Filipina, died at the hospital due to the disease.
Dr. Joel Abanilla, medical director of PHC, said over radio station dzMM that 39 personnel, including 19 nurses and 7 doctors, were placed under mandatory quarantine after interacting with the patient.
“Lahat ng nacontact niya (All of her close contacts) from attending to nurses to technicians, lahat yan, we now label them as PUIs,” Abanilla said, noting that around 12 rooms were used for the quarantine of the PUIs.
“So some volunteered self-quarantine at home a lot of them are here at a hospital confined at an area. There are about 39 of them,” he added.
The patient from Pasig City, who is among the 52 confirmed cases under country’s health department records, experienced the symptoms for the disease on Feb. 28 and tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Abanilla said the patient was admitted to their hospital on Feb. 26 due to cardiovascular disease and was then referred to a pulmonologist after experiencing cough.
Abanilla lamented that their medical staff, who are PUIs, failed to wear protective gear because initially the patient was only diagnosed for heart disease.
“They would wear mask. Most likely yung mga ito walang personal protective equipment (PPE) initially ng hindi nila alam. (These staff do not have PPEs because initially they did not know that the patient tested positive for the disease),” the hospital’s director said.
The hospital is also conducting contact tracing for the families of the PUIs and the patient, Abanilla said.
Reduction of patients
Following the incident, Abanilla said they expect to reduce the number of patients in their hospital by admitting only patients with emergencies.
“We politely told them kung stable sila kung hindi emergency, wag muna sila magfollow-up, they come back on a safer time,” Abanilla said, noting that more than 50 percent of their clients could be affected.
(If they are stable and if their situation is not an emergency, they should not follow-up for now. They can come back on a safer time.)
“It would be a little inconvenience to patients but we have to contain it we have to put our feet down,” he added.
Abanilla said they usually have 600 patients daily who ask for medical check-ups such as for hypertension.
Abanilla also said patients diagnosed for COVID-19 should be referred to Philippine Lung Center in Quezon City, San Lazaro Hospital in Manila and Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa.
“As much as possible, yun ang pinagusapan namin among DOH [Department of Health] hospitals na yung patient na talagang idiagnose na [for COVID-19], preferable, they will be referred to either Lung Center, San Lazaro and RITM,” he said.
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