Robredo: How do we comfort families whose relatives died due to system failure?

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo admitted being lost for words to comfort grieving families who lost a loved one just because the systems set up by the government are failing the people.

Robredo said in her personal Facebook account that she has seen “heartbreak after heartbreak” from people whose relatives have succumbed to ailments — both COVID-19 related and not — because the hospitals are way past their operating capacities.

“It has been heartbreak after heartbreak of people dying without having been given a fighting chance because of a system that is failing us,” she said in her post on Sunday.

“This is not the first time it happened in the recent past. But each time, the blow is still difficult to fathom. How do we comfort the grieving families who are victims of a system that has failed them?” she asked.

The Vice President was referring to the influx of emergency cases referred to their Bayanihan E-Konsulta initiative, which was originally set up to respond to patients who do not need immediate concern.

However, the patients were forced to rely on the said online service because they have been denied access to several hospitals which have been overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 surge.

“Bayanihan E-Konsulta was designed for outpatient cases only. Everyday, we remind people that we don’t have the capacity to deal with emergencies. We have been receiving thousands of teleconsultation requests everyday,” Robredo said.

“But, on top of this, we also receive SOS messages, of frantic family members asking for help because they couldn’t find a hospital that can accommodate their sick who are already toxic and in need of immediate help,” she revealed.

In her post, Robredo said that there was a stroke patient waiting in line at a government hospital’s lobby, who needed an oxygen tank because her oxygen levels were low.  The patient eventually expired.

Robredo then shared screenshots of her conversation with Office of the Vice President (OVP) personnel and volunteers, who informed her that a COVID-19 patient in comatose, while inside a makeshift tent setup outside hospitals, also died before the One Hospital Command Center got a hold of the patient’s relatives.

She however defended One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) as they have been working constantly, but are only dependent on the hospital availability within the National Capital Region (NCR) bubble).

“For several nights now, we have been dealing with such calls and all we can do is ask help from One Hospital Command Center. In fairness to OHCC, their team has been very helpful and patient, but they also can do only so much since the entire healthcare system in the NCR Bubble is already overwhelmed,” Robredo said.

The country has been facing a surge of COVID-19 cases since late March, forcing the national government back in March 27 to place Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)

It was eventually downgraded to a modified ECQ (MECQ), but cases are still piling up.  As of Monday, the country’s active COVID-19 case count is at 141,375 after the Department of Health (DOH) tallied 9,628 new infections.

A huge bulk of the cases are found inside the so-called NCR Bubble.

In terms of COVID-19 bed capacity within NCR, 84 percent of intensive care unit beds have been utilized while 63 percent of isolation beds are occupied.

READ: 9,628 new COVID-19 infections bring active case count back to over 141,000 — DOH