‘Extreme exhaustion’ sets in among Zamboanga City hospital workers
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines — Lack of personnel and a continued spike in infections were taking a toll on health workers of the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), this city’s main referral facility for COVID-19 patients.
The ZCMC management said the hospital has been operating at full capacity since Wednesday, both for COVID-19 and other medical cases.
The city experienced its second surge of infections this year. A spike in cases first occurred between April and May, subsided by July, then steadily went up again toward late August.
The active COVID-19 cases breached the 1,000 mark on Sept. 19. As of Thursday, the City Health Office (CHO) recorded one death among COVID-19 patients and 157 new infections that outpaced the 52 new recoveries, hence jacking up total active cases to 1,294.
Of these cases, 1,267 or 98 percent were attributed to a community transmission of the virus, the CHO said.
Dr. Shadrina Tahil-Sarapuddin, ZCMC spokesperson, said the 400-bed tertiary hospital allocated 173 beds for COVID-19 patients.
As of Wednesday night, there was only one bed left as the hospital catered to 172 COVID-19 patients, of whom 73 were in severe conditions, four in critical state, and 95 were moderate cases.
The hospital opened a ward that can accommodate 26 beds for COVID-19 cases but the additional volume of patients is straining its manpower capability, she said.
Mental, physical stress
Tahil-Sarapuddin said the Department of Health had augmented the hospital staff with 12 nurses but this did not suffice.
“Our medical workers are extremely exhausted,” she noted on Friday.
“It is hard to battle with mental and physical stress altogether. Some among them (health workers) are already crying,” she added.
Aggravating the situation is that about 10 staff were infected with the virus, although they are only experiencing mild symptoms, Tahil-Sarapuddin said.
“We are hoping that no one will get sick today due to COVID,” she added, noting that since June 2020, 272 of their workers have been infected with the virus.
ZCMC doctors, nurses and other staff assigned in COVID-19 wards are required to go on duty for two weeks, staying in a dormitory during their off-hours and being provided with food. After the two-week period, they will be swabbed and quarantined. Those who test negative for the virus can enjoy a weeklong break before returning for another round of two-week duty.
Tahil-Sarapuddin gave assurance that, except for personnel lack, the hospital has sufficient capacity to deal with COVID-19 cases. She cited that they have enough supply of medical oxygen, with 450 tanks regularly available in its inventory.
Amid the recent surge of infections, the local government found consolation in the result of a survey showing that more residents were choosing to get vaccinated.
The survey, done by the City Planning and Development Office from Aug. 25 to Aug. 31, found that among its 917 respondents, 56 percent were unvaccinated. Of them, only 14 percent said they did not want to take any vaccine, a big drop from the 47 percent in a February survey.
So far, the local government has administered 260,000 vaccines with only 451 people reporting mild adverse effects, said city health officer Dulce Miravite.
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