Agusan del Sur family lose 3 members to COVID-19 as medical oxygen supply runs out
SAN FRANCISCO, AGUSAN DEL SUR—In just two days, Sarah Edison Postrero, 39, lost her husband and two family members to COVID-19 as hospitals struggling with an influx of patients also had to deal with the short supply of medical oxygen in this town.
Postrero, who was still under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, said her husband died at 4 a.m. Sunday at the DO Plaza Memorial Hospital in Prosperidad town, barely a day after his father—her father-in-law—and only hours ahead of her brother-in-law, who died at 7 p.m. on the same day of COVID-19 in the same hospital.
Her husband was admitted on Sept. 1 at the Bayugan Community Hospital, three days after he experienced cough and fever. His father followed five days later, while his son got admitted Sept. 8 to the same facility.
But on Sept. 7, noting that no doctor was taking care of the patients and the supply of medical oxygen was running out at the Bayugan facility, they decided to move her husband to the DO Plaza Memorial Hospital in nearby Prosperidad town.
“We decided to transfer him since there was no longer a physician to check on his health condition,” Postrero said.
But on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 11, her husband started to deteriorate after he ran out of oxygen at the DO Plaza facility. The replacement came around midnight, she said. “But his condition already worsened even with the new oxygen (in place) and he did not survive at dawn,’ she said.
Earlier that Saturday morning, her father-in-law, who was moved to the DO Plaza Memorial Hospital only on Sept. 10, Friday, died from a stroke, only hours after he left the Bayugan facility. The 65-year old patient had hypertension.
Her husband’s younger brother, 28, who had diabetes, was also brought to the DO Plaza from the Bayugan facility on Sunday, Sept. 12, but died hours later.
All of the three patients were not vaccinated.
Postrero said their scheduled vaccination in May this year did not push through after the doctor learned they were still taking tetanus toxoid medication for the injuries they got from a motorcycle accident.
On Sunday, the Bayugan Community Hospital issued an advisory saying they could no longer accept patients who would need oxygen since the hospital’s supply was already at a critical level.
“Our supplier can no longer provide us with enough oxygen as of this time,” the advisory read. “In line with this, BCH will temporarily suspend admission of patients needing oxygen supplements effective today until further notice.”
Hospitals in Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Sur, and Davao del Norte echoed the same medical oxygen supply shortage.
In Tagum, Davao del Norte, the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC), said they had instituted control measures to “optimize” the use of oxygen amid the scarcity of medical oxygen supply.
DRMC said the measure would allow them to accept patient referrals and transfers but only on limited capacity. “Referrals that cannot be accommodated at the time of the call will be assisted for admission to other facilities,” the DRMC advisory said.
Dr. Anatalio Cagampang, acting chief of the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center, also issued the same advisory asking patients to bring their oxygen, if they had any, since the hospital could no longer assure them of supply.
In Lanao del Sur, the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City also announced that their oxygen supply was already at a critical level because of the inability of their supplier to meet the oxygen demand.
On Sept. 7, empty oxygen tanks were waiting at the Pryce gas plant to be refilled by the supplier.
As of Sept. 10, Bayugan City recorded 68 new COVID-19 patients bringing the active cases in the area to 296, according to the Department of Health 13 (Caraga). The city has recorded 34 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Postrero, who also tested positive for COVID-19, though without symptoms, was isolated with her three children—aged 12, 13, and 18—inside a government quarantine facility in Bayugan City. Three of them tested positive for COVID-19, except the third child still awaiting the swab test results.
Another younger brother of her husband was brought to Caraga Regional Hospital on Monday after he experienced symptoms like hard cough and recurring fever. He, too, was still awaiting his swab test results.
With reports from Leah Agonoy, Richel Umel, Inquirer Mindanao
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