Cebu City nurses planning to quit as hospitals see spike in COVID-19 cases

Cebu City Governor Gwen Garcia inspect a COVID-19 quarantine facility with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque. Photo: Garcia/FB
Cebu City Governor Gwen Garcia inspect a COVID-19 quarantine facility with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque. Photo: Garcia/FB

Nurses and other medical professionals in Cebu City are threatening to quit as private hospitals continue to admit an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, a doctor based in the Queen City of the South said today.

Considered the Philippines’ second capital, Cebu City is the only remaining area in the country that’s been placed under the enhanced community quarantine, the strictest form of lockdown. President Rodrigo Duterte claimed in a publicly broadcast speech earlier this week that Cebuanos’ overconfidence and complacency led to the increase of coronavirus patients in the province.

Read: ‘Too Complacent’: Duterte blames Cebuanos’ overconfidence for rising COVID-19 cases

Dr. Peter Mancao, the public relations officer of the Cebu Medical Society, said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that the potentially deadly respiratory illness has spread all over the city.

“I don’t think we can do anything about that anymore. Now, what we are experiencing is, our emergency rooms are full, the COVID ICUs are full. And all the hospitals that are taking care of COVID patients are full,” Mancao said in English and Filipino.

“That is why we have to continue doing these grassroots information campaign [where it is taught that] we should not take this virus lightly. There should be strict wearing of masks, social distancing, handwashing. I think we failed there which is why the virus [has] spread,” he added.

He suggested that to cope, hospitals in the city have to add more rooms and convert them into COVID-19 wards for at least a month. Mancao added that many hospitals need more nurses and asked the government to send the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) so they could work without getting sick from the virus.

Read: Nightingales in Peril: Filipino nurses put their lives on the line in the UK

“Our problem is also staffing. The nurses are afraid. I was talking to our CCO (chief clinical officer) nurse, they’re going to resign because they’re afraid [of getting infected],” he said.

“If you’re in a war, we should retreat first, re-arm, [because] the nurses are very low in morale. We have to give them the correct masks, the correct PPE so that they will not be afraid to go back to work,” Mancao added.

“[T]he nurses are afraid, the morale is low. Again we have to look for a way to improve that morale. Give them the proper masks, [such as] respirator masks. I’m speaking for all the health workers here, the proper PPE, maybe increase their salary so they can eat well and they are healthy,” he said.

Read: No To Doctor Shaming: Cebu Governor Garcia skewered for scolding young GP online

In the same program, the spokesperson of the Department of Health in Central Visayas, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, claimed that most patients found in Cebu City hospitals are only mild cases.

“The increase in hospital beds, that’s mostly from mild cases. Because we know how some of our countrymen when they feel something, they immediately want to go to the hospital and be treated there. In Cebu City, we have facilities, we have isoaltion centers where we can treat positive patients who cannot isolate themselves in their own homes as well as our mild cases,” Loreche said.

However, Mancao rejected her assertion and said that most patients in Cebu City are critically ill.

“There are no mild cases in hospitals now. The hospitals do not accept mild cases.  If you go to the emergency room, practically, everybody there is intubated. The waiting time to get in, this is based on personal experience from one of my relatives, they called in at 11am, they were admitted to the emergency room [only] at 8 in the evening. By 10 p.m. the patient was intubated,” he said.

“My take is that if patients who come to the emergy room are taken care of, the system is taken care of, there is no waiting time, nobody will complain, we are OK,” Mancao said.

Cebu province, along with other areas, is being closely monitored by the government after being declared an emerging COVID-19 hotspot. Earlier this week, quarantine passes, which gives a resident the authority to leave his home to purchase essentials, were canceled in Cebu City, leading Mayor Edgar Labella to appeal for “calm and understanding.” 



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