PGH now in ‘crisis mode’ as 310 health workers contract COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) is now operating in a “crisis mode” as nearly 40 percent of its COVID-19 health workers are either infected with the SARS-CoV-2 or are now in quarantine after being exposed to the virus, the hospital’s spokesperson said Saturday.
According to Dr. Jonas Del Rosario, the PGH currently has around 2,000 health workers and ancillary staff members involved in its COVID-19 operations. He said that 310 of them have tested positive for COVID-19 during the past week.
“We found that for every 1 health worker who had COVID, about 3-4 workers have high-risk exposure to either a patient, household member or co-worker,” he said in a Viber message.
“Roughly 40% of the workforce are infected or quarantined because of COVID. If conventional quarantine protocol is used, the hospital will run out of doctors, nurses, and support staff to take care of patients… We are operating in a crisis mode,” he added.
According to Del Rosario, some critical areas have as high as 80 percent of their workforce pulled out because of COVID-19 infection or exposure.
Del Rosario also noted at the Laging Handa public briefing that the percentage of health workers at PGH who were infected with the virus and those who need to be quarantined is high.
“Napakalaki pong bilang ‘yun. Lalo na sa key areas, napipilay po kami. Marami ang nagka-quarantine, kailangan iquarantine dahil na-expose sila. ” he added.
(That is a huge number. Our operations are being crippled in other key areas. Many are quarantined or need to be quarantined because they are exposed.)
According to an advisory from the PGH’s Hospital Infection Control Unit (HICU), the hospital has “no recourse but to conduct operations in a crisis mode and employ contingency measures” as COVID and non-COVID-19 patients continue to seek to consult at PGH in “overwhelming numbers.”
The HICU said that in order to respond to the situation, the hospital has revised its protocols based on provisions of the Department of Health Circular No. 2022-002 on the amended quarantine and isolation period for fully vaccinated healthcare workers.
According to the HICU, health workers who were quarantined because of exposure, at any stage of their removal from their unit, shall report back to work as long as they are not showing symptoms.
“COVID testing is not required. Personnel should wear N95 masks or elastomeric respirators, until instructed otherwise. Eating with any other personnel at any time is prohibited. As soon as symptoms appear, personnel should report to their unit’s safety officer for further instructions,” the hospital unit said.
Meanwhile, quarantined health workers who develop mild symptoms should promptly undergo RT-PCT test. If they test positive, they should be placed in isolation. If they test negative, they should report back to work.
“COVID positive personnel, whether symptomatic or not, will continue the previous protocol of 10-day isolation, from the time of first symptom or positive testing, returning to work on the 11th day without the need for a second test,” the HICU added.
The hospital unit said the guidelines may still be revised depending on the COVID-19 situation.
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