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Cebu hospitals cry out for help

Health officials in Central Visayas appeal to new nursing graduates to augment medical workforce amid COVID-19 surge

ANOTHER SURGE Cebu City is seeing another COVID-19 surge as local hospitals start hitting capacity, forcing patients to stay inside their cars while waiting for their turn to get into emergency rooms. Some bring oxygen tanks to aid relatives experiencing difficulty in breathing. —NESTLE SEMILLA

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Health officials are appealing to new graduates of nursing schools to help their fellow Cebuanos amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the shortage of health workers in this city.

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, said at least 400 registered nurses were needed to augment the medical front-liners in Cebu and the rest of the region, but the health agency had so far recruited only 50.

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“I really implore nurses to apply in our various hospitals and help their counterparts in the fight against COVID-19,” he said. “Our hospitals still have vacant beds for COVID-19 patients but lack the manpower to take care of the patients.”

Bernadas said one of their problems was that registered nurses, who had yet to be assigned to facilities with high numbers of COVID-19 infections, were afraid to work in isolation centers and hospitals.

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He said he asked the DOH central office to help the medical workforce in Central Visayas as well as to allow them to recruit nurses who still had to take the board examination.

Health workers infected

The unregistered nurses, he said, would be assigned in isolation centers while the registered nurses would be sent to hospitals.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had yet to respond to the request, Bernadas said.

In the past two weeks, at least 132 front-line healthcare workers in Cebu City had been infected with COVID-19, according to Councilor Joel Garganera, the deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center.

Among them were doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, medical technologists, laboratory technicians, and paramedics in the city’s 31 hospitals, medical clinics, and quarantines.

“So just imagine they’re being isolated together with their close contacts in their workplace. That’s a big dent to our medical workforce,” Garganera said.

These healthcare workers have been isolated in their workplaces. Garganera said 90 percent of them were asymptomatic or manifesting mild symptoms and only one of the 132 had yet to be vaccinated.

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“Our hospitals are compartmentalizing their workforce so that it will not affect others. Our hospitals are already efficient in containing the spread of the virus. Some have their own isolation ward within the facilities,” Garganera said.

‘Mega isolation center’

Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama on Tuesday ordered the creation of a “mega isolation center” at Cebu City Sports Center to help decongest hospitals and other COVID-19 facilities.Cebu City health officer Jeffrey Ibones said the city government was also hiring 200 nurses to cope with the surge.

As of Aug. 2, Cebu City recorded 154 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total active infections to 3,016. It also logged nine new deaths. Since the pandemic started last year, 943 city residents died of COVID-19.

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TAGS: Cebu COVID-19 cases, Cebu hospitals
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