Patients in quarantine in QC bemoan poor sanitation, lack of water, unclear protocol | Inquirer News

Patients in quarantine in QC bemoan poor sanitation, lack of water, unclear protocol

/ 04:02 AM April 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — When Jherri Santiago was admitted into Hope 2, a public university repurposed as a quarantine facility for Quezon City residents, he didn’t know if he had the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). But the conditions inside made him worry that, if he didn’t have it yet, he just might by the end of his stay.

Santiago’s weeklong sojourn at Hope 2, which he recounted to the Inquirer in an interview, was similar to that of fellow Quezon City resident Mark Toldo, who wrote an open letter to the local government last week, calling attention to issues in the facility that he said made him “fear for my safety.”

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Both Santiago and Toldo, who were discharged on April 21 and 17, respectively, described a facility beset by poor sanitation, a lack of basic supplies and confounding protocols for both leaving Hope 2 and acquiring the results of their COVID-19 tests.

The local government has acknowledged Toldo’s letter, and the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) released a statement saying an inquiry into his concerns had been launched and facility managers were ordered to “immediately make the necessary improvements.”

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Toldo said in an interview that QCHD chief Esperanza Arias personally called him on Friday and said all his concerns had been addressed, but did not offer specific action points taken.

Still no results

As late as Sunday, Toldo, who was among those tested on April 16 for COVID-19 under the city government’s community-based testing program, had yet to know whether or not he was positive for the disease. He still had slight muscle pains and a mild cold, but was otherwise feeling better after being quarantined inside his home since his discharge.

When he followed up his test results with the local government, it told him his swab had been taken to either St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City or the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). Toldo called both but neither had his swab.

“St. Luke’s actually said that whole week, nothing had been delivered to them from testing centers in Quezon City,” he said. “At RITM, I had them search different ways to spell my name, because my name had kept getting misspelled at the center. But nothing came up.”

At Hope 2, he was told the results would come within five working days. Doctors at the quarantine facility eventually said it would take “more or less seven days.” It’s now been 10 days.

Santiago, on the other hand, received a negative result while he was still at Hope 2. He had been in the facility seven days at that point and was itching to leave — but even that was difficult.

He tried reaching out to personnel as early as 6:30 a.m. on April 21 to inform them of his negative test result. At around 8 a.m., they said they would process his release. After hours of following up, he was finally discharged late in the afternoon.

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“The entire process was a big hassle,” Santiago said.

7-hour wait

In his letter, Toldo wrote of a seven-hour wait for his discharge.

“The only instruction I received was to coordinate with the barangay emergency responders and join them in the ambulance when they arrive so they could take me home,” he said. When the ambulance came, there were no personnel to assist him and he was given no documents to sign.

“Upon arrival [at my home], I got a call from Hope 2 asking me, ‘Where are you?’” Toldo said.

Both Hope 2 patients were also appalled by what they said was poor sanitation in the facility.

“All of us, patients, on the ground floor shared two poorly maintained restrooms — serving both as toilet, urinal, and bathroom — that were untidy and constantly wet,” Toldo said.

Those admitted to the facility were confined within makeshift cubicles in shared rooms, but common areas like the restroom and hallways could be incubators of further disease, he added.

“The restroom was constantly dirty and wet,” Toldo said. “Not once did I see someone clean it.”

Santiago, who was initially placed in a room with five others, said he did not see a single bottle of alcohol or sanitizer over his stay. He had been in the facility a full day before a doctor visited him.

At one point, while he was taking a shower, Santiago said he overheard two other patients bemoaning an insufficient supply of medicine they had needed.

While they were given three meals a day, water appeared to be scarce in the facility, both Santiago and Toldo said.

“They gave a small bottle of water every meal but it wasn’t enough,” Santiago said. “They had a water dispenser, but it was shared. For the safety of those with only mild symptoms and even confirmed COVID-19 patients, larger bottles of water would have been preferable.”

Shared space

Both complained that they were not told whether everyone at the facility was a person under investigation or if there was a chance they were sharing a space with confirmed COVID-19 carriers.

In its response to Toldo, the QCHD said his experience was “by no means the kind of service we aim to provide and we agree with Mr. Toldo that the persons in our care deserve a much higher quality of service.”

“For all spaces, personnel are assigned to ensure routine cleaning and disinfection and we continuously monitor all provisions to the facility to ensure that there are more than enough supplies to service our patients and provide for our doctors,” the QCHD added.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, COVID-19 patients, Hopee 2, Quezon City
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