DOH renews appeal to hospitals for more COVID-19 beds
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday appealed to hospital administrators to open up more beds for COVID-19 patients, especially because the current average allocation, particularly in the private sector, is only a third of the ideal number.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while the average occupancy rate of COVID-19 dedicated beds across the country was now 49 percent, or the “warning zone,” the hospitals were actually only using 22 percent of the beds if their prescribed 30 percent allocation is to be followed.
Out of the total 107,508 hospital beds in the country, 14,595 are currently dedicated to COVID-19 cases. Of these beds, 9,723 are in government hospitals.
Under DOH Administrative Order 2020-0016, which called on both private and public hospitals to set aside 30 percent of their beds for COVID-19 cases, the available beds should be 32,252.
17k additional beds
“We call on our hospitals, especially the private hospitals, to already convert 30 percent of their beds into COVID-dedicated hospital beds … This would allow us to have an additional 17,307 beds,” Vergeire said.
She added that though the warning zone did not indicate that the country’s health system was already overwhelmed, it was a signal that “we must do the appropriate actions so that we can prepare should demand increase.”
Based on DOH data, only public hospitals in Mimaropa and Central Visayas have met the 30 percent bed allocation, as they have set aside 38 percent and 42 percent, respectively, of their beds for COVID-19.
In Metro Manila, public hospitals have been able to allocate 17 percent of their beds for COVID-19, slightly higher than the private sector’s allocation of 14 percent. The occupancy of allocated beds in the capital region is now 76 percent.
For Central Visayas, which has seen a surge in cases, total bed use is 64 percent.
The DOH has acknowledged that nine hospitals have reported full occupancy of their intensive care, isolation and ward beds.
These are University of Santo Tomas Hospital, FY Manalo Medical Foundation Inc., Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center, Qualimed Health Network Santa Rosa, UPH-Dr. Jose G. Tamayo Medical University Foundation Inc., Tricity Medical Center Inc., Westlake Medical Center, Antipolo City Medical Hospital, and Ortigas Hospital and Healthcare Center Inc.
Malacañang said the situation was “manageable.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told a news briefing that Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega had reported the critical-care use at 70 percent, up 10 percent from 60 percent “the last time we met.”
“That is still manageable,” Roque said.
He gave assurance that the country would not run out of COVID-19 beds.
“Not under the system adopted by Undersecretary Vega. Our request to patients, to listen where [they] should go. Do not insist or worry if a hospital is full … because you will be referred to another hospital,” Roque said.
While asking hospitals to expand their capacity, Vergeire reminded the public that they should also do their share by following the minimum health standards to help ensure that they would not get infected and end up in hospitals.
On Tuesday, DOH recorded an additional 634 cases, pushing the national tally to 57,545. The new cases are from the submission of 65 of the 82 operational laboratories.
Of the new cases, 302 were patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus in the last three days, while 332 were confirmed to have been infected four days ago or earlier. Metro Manila accounted for more than half of the new cases, or 360.
The four other provinces with double-digit cases are Laguna (58), Cebu (32), Bulacan (23) and Cavite (21).
The total number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 increased to 20,459 with the recovery of 88 more patients.
The death toll, however, rose to 1,603 as six succumbed to the severe respiratory disease. Of the newly reported deaths, four died in July while the two others died in June.
Three of the fatalities were from Metro Manila, two were from Central Visayas while one was from Bicol.
Dr. Maricar Limpin of the Philippine College of Physicians also asked the public not to be complacent and to do their part, especially because medical front-liners were already “growing tired” from responding to the outbreak.
“It seems like we have already forgotten or grown complacent of what we need to do. We should do all that we can to control the spread of the [virus]. We want the spread to be halted because we are already growing tired. Do not wait for us to get overwhelmed by COVID-19 because when that happens, we will lose our last defense,” she warned.
As of July 12, DOH data show, there are 5,922 medical front-liners under quarantine. Of these, 820 are doctors, 2,507 are nurses, while 2,595 are other hospital staff.
—With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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