Cebu City seeing another surge in COVID-19 cases as some nurses resign
CEBU CITY––Paramedics brought a 58-year-old woman with severe COVID-19 symptoms to a private hospital in Cebu City at 6 a.m. Monday.
She was not immediately admitted as she was number 15 on the waiting list.
The woman was brought to another private hospital but was also turned down since there was no vacancy.
“We brought her back to the first hospital and was now number 7 in the list,” according to the paramedics who declined to be named.
As of noon on Monday, he said the woman was still not admitted.
Paramedics told the Inquirer that the number of calls for COVID-19-related cases had increased since last week.
“In the last three days alone, we had responded to five to eight cases per day when it used to be only 2 to 3 cases,” he added.
He noted that just like last year during the surge of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City, their patients had to wait in line.
Last Thursday, the paramedics said a patient had to wait for 24 hours inside an ambulance outside a government hospital because the facility was full.
Although they would not turn down pleas for help, especially those with severe COVID-19 symptoms, he said they would usually ask relatives to ensure they had made arrangements with the hospitals before the transport.
But he added that the families could not make any arrangements since the hospitals were usually full.
“Mao na karon, laray laray na pud mi sa hospital. Dugay ang turnaround sa ambulansya (Now, we line up outside the hospitals. There is a delay in the turnaround of the ambulance),” he added.
Asked what caused the surge, he noticed that most cases involved unvaccinated patients, while the rest only had their first dose of vaccines.
He also noted that many of the Cebuanos had started to disregard the minimum health protocol, which could have caused the resurgence of cases.
The long lines of patients waiting for confinement at government and private hospitals in Cebu were seen as a result of the lack of nurses and the need for medical facilities to expand their bed capacities for COVID-19 patients.
Just recently, several nurses at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) have resigned after the local government failed to pay their salaries for four months.
CCMC Administrator Yvonne Cania on Monday has yet to release the exact number of nurses who left. She also declined to give an estimate as of 3:30 p.m., saying she was still in a meeting.
Acting Mayor Michael Rama, in an interview, said City Hall officials are resolving the matter and vowed to pay all nurses, including those who left, once the council passes the first Supplemental Budget (SB 1) for this year.
“These are all solvable. And this has to be addressed,” he said in an interview.
The city council’s committee on budget and finance is set to submit the final version of the SB 1 during their regular session on Wednesday, July 28.
Joseph Stephen Descallar, president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA)-Cebu Chapter, a group of around 3,000 members, said he has yet to gather information about the CCMC nurses who resigned.
Last year, nurses in the city mulled over the possibility of quitting their jobs due to the lack of support from the government, prompting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella to give P10,000 incentives each to at least 1,800 doctors, nurses, and other medical staff members in private hospitals for three months.
As of July 25, Cebu City has 2,085 active COVID-19 cases. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the city has recorded 28,620 infections, 25,633 recoveries, and 902 deaths.
While medical facilities in the city are overwhelmed by patients, Rama said the hospital occupancy rate remains manageable.
“Hopefully, we won’t reach the critical level,” said Rama who is currently serving as acting mayor while Labella is recuperating from an ailment.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), was not available for comment on Monday.
But in a press conference last week, he said the DOH will increase COVID-19 allocated beds in hospitals and reactivate isolation centers in case the COVID-19 infections in Cebu continue to increase.
At present, Cebu hospitals have an occupancy rate of 52 percent compared to last month’s 25 to 40 percent.
Safe levels for hospital occupancy should not exceed 60 percent, according to DOH standards.
Bernadas had said DOH-7 is also putting on hold elective surgeries or those that are not medical emergencies.
The Cebu City Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) also announced that there would be delays in responding to emergency calls using their ambulances, as these are occupied mostly by patients bound for hospitals.
The CDRRMO said the public should only call for an ambulance for life-threatening emergencies.
For non-emergency medical needs, the CDRRMO advised people to visit their nearest barangay health center or a hospital’s outpatient departments.
“Please expect our ambulances not to respond to your emergency calls right away. Our ambulances are waiting outside emergency rooms of hospitals for hours and waiting to hand over their patients,” the CDRRMO said.
With reports from Dale Israel and Ador Vincent Mayol, Inquirer Visayas
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