Health Department assigns two Manila hospitals as exclusive COVID-19 centers

State-owned Philippine General Hospital. <i>Photo: PGH/ FB</i>
State-owned Philippine General Hospital. Photo: PGH/ FB

The Department of Health (DOH) said today that it has designated the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila and the Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City to cater exclusively to COVID-19 patients.

The decision comes after medical industry leaders from 11 Metro Manila hospitals sent a “unity statement” to the media yesterday appealing to the DOH to designate hospitals specially dedicated to the COVID-19 response amid an “exponential surge of patients” that health workers are experiencing across multiple institutions, including St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City and the Asian Hospital Medical Center in Muntinlupa.

The statement noted that “an alarming number” of health personnel are under 14-day quarantine as the suspected cases “continue to flock” to their emergency rooms daily.

“Even our ICUs are getting full. Soon we will have a shortage of respirators. We have every reason to be scared; we are, indeed, very scared because we feel that we are on our own to face our countrymen [who are] in dire need of help,” the statement read.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque, told radio station DZMM this morning that he’d read the statement and fully supported the appeal of the private hospitals, which is why he ordered the exclusive use of the two public hospitals to treat COVID-19.

Read: Philippine health chief ‘OK’ and working while awaiting COVID-19 test results

In its advisory this afternoon, the DOH said that the PGH and Jose Rodriguez will be the COVID-19 referral hospitals for the National Capital Region. The agency said that PGH has “begun ceasing admission for non-emergency cases” to free up rooms, and added that more details will be released about admitting coronavirus patients. Preparations are also being made to better equip the Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital for treating COVID-19 patients.

The DOH also said that the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City will be dedicating one wing with 40 beds to coronavirus patients. It noted that because the center houses a large number of tuberculosis and lung cancer patients, “care must be taken not to expose these immunocompromised patients.”

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters that the move will help relieve other hospitals, and will prevent a “mix of patients” moving forward. DOH has yet to specify when the two designated hospitals will begin admitting only coronavirus patients.

As of this afternoon, at least 230 people in the country have contracted the virus, including 18 who died, and eight who recovered.

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