PH private hospitals reaching full capacity as COVID-19 cases spike

<i>Photo: Department of Health / FB</i>
Photo: Department of Health / FB

Private hospitals in the country are reaching full capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to spike, the president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Incorporated said today in an interview.

Dr. Rustico Jimenez told the news program Unang Hirit that mild and asymptomatic patients can transfer to the government’s isolation facilities to avoid overcrowding in hospitals.

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“Almost all [of the hospitals are full] because there was an increase in positive patients just like when this started. But now the hospitals are more prepared. Now, there are [facilities] where mild cases could be transferred that was provided by the government. Perhaps the asymptomatic [patients] and those mild cases we can transfer them there so that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, both government [hospitals] and private,” Dr. Jimenez said.

However, Jimenez admitted that it would be hard to convince patients to transfer to the government’s quarantine facilities because they’ll end up losing contact with their families.

“Most patients do not want to transfer there because they are scared, of course, because those are too far from their homes. Most patients prefer to be treated in private hospitals which are located near their homes so that they can be visited by their families who give them food. So what happens is, the private hospitals are fully packed,” he said.

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

Two large private hospitals in Metro Manila, St. Lukes Medical Center and Makati Medical Center, yesterday announced that they have already reached their full capacity in their COVID-19 wards. Earlier this month, the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center also announced that they have reached their limit, and even added that some coronavirus patients that they have accepted were more severe than the ones they treated in March when the pandemic was first declared.

The Philippine General Hospital, a public facility, also declared a few days ago that they have reached their full capacity.

Jimenez admitted that many hospitals suffer from a lack of manpower because thousands of medical professionals have become infected with the coronavirus.

“That’s really our problem because we have a limited number of healthcare workers. They will go on duty for 16, 12 hours because someone got sick, so that person won’t be able to go on duty and they need to cover for them. Of course, when you lack sleep, your immune system will weaken. Chances are, you’ll get sick eventually,” he said.

In Cebu City, the situation has become so dire that some nurses working in private hospitals have threatened to quit over fears that they will get sick of COVID-19. The situation has led the Cebu Medical Society to urge the government to provide proper protective gear to stop the nurses from abandoning their jobs.

Access to protective gear, and the government’s seeming inability to provide hospitals with it, has been an issue since March.


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