Ilocos Sur seeks medical ‘timeout’
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines — Medical workers in Ilocos Sur province were calling for a “timeout” as rising COVID-19 cases continue to overwhelm the province’s health system.
Dr. Jun Tagorda, president of Ilocos Sur Medical Society (ISMS), said on Saturday that by asking for a timeout, it did not mean they would stop treating COVID-19 patients.
He said they would need the provincial government to consider placing Ilocos Sur under an enhanced community quarantine for at least two weeks to slow down the spread of the virus and ease the pressure on hospitals.
It would give the province time to address the shortage in quarantine and isolation facilities and help infected health workers recover.
Joining the clamor with ISMS were Southern Ilocos Sur Medical Society, groups representing municipal health officers and the Ilocos Sur chapters of Philippine Nurses Association, Philippine Hospital Association and Private Hospitals Association.
The province’s average daily attack rate has been the second highest among provinces in the Ilocos region, with 31.08 per 100,000 population, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Ilocos Sur has 3,124 active infections as of Saturday, out of the 10,990 total cases recorded since the pandemic struck last year.
The spike in COVID-19 cases—fueled by the Delta variant—had reduced Ilocos Sur’s capacity to conduct “timely” tests and laboratory processing of suspected carriers, Tagorda said.
The use of COVID-19 beds in public and private hospitals have also been faster than the rate of patients being discharged, said Dr. Trina Talaga, Ilocos Sur’s COVID-19 incident commander.
In Ilocos Sur Provincial Hospital-Gabriela Silang, the biggest public hospital in the province, only one bed was vacant out of its 113 COVID-19 beds as of Sept. 17, the DOH said.
The provincial hospital stopped taking in non-COVID patients beginning Sept. 8 to focus its resources on treating moderate to critical COVID-19 patients.
The DOH said the province’s COVID-19 bed occupancy rate had reached the “critical risk” level, with 89.2 percent of its 445 beds currently occupied, while 11 of its 20 isolation facilities were bursting at the seams, with more than 85-percent capacity.
Health units in Ilocos Sur towns and cities now suffer a shortage of health workers, who have the simultaneous tasks of undertaking vaccination drives and contact tracing, Talaga said.
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