Hospitals Appeal To PH Gov’t Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: “We feel that we are on our own.”

A group of Philippine hospitals has issued a joint statement appealing to the Philippine government for a unified approach to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Allow us to bring to the fore the current state of our healthcare facilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement from 11 different hospitals and medical centers begins.

(DOTr to Deploy Buses to Transport Health Workers to Hospitals Amid Enhanced Community Quarantine)

The rest of the statement reads:

An alarming number of nurses, residents, consultants, and hospital employees are under 14-day quarantine while the number of PUIs (Persons Under Investigation) continue to flock to our emergency rooms every day. Our regular rooms have been converted into COVID-19 isolation areas, leaving less for other non-COVID-19 high-risk patients who also have life-threatening conditions. The panic is escalating, mortality is increasing, our supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are running short, our frontline staff are increasingly getting depleted as more of them are quarantined or physically and emotionally exhausted, and a number of our medical colleagues are already hooked to respirators fighting for their lives in various ICUs. 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 in dire need of help.

This unprecedented and escalating medical crisis cuts across borders. The rest of the world, even countries as rich as the United States, are facing the same fears, the same looming threat of shortage of supplies, ICUs, PPEs, and healthcare workers. If we do not put our act together, the prospect of the healthcare delivery systems crashing down is imminent and real. It is already happening.

We speak, as one, because the mismatch between the exponential surge of patients and the available healthcare workers is no longer occurring in just one center, but in all our respective institutions. We share information and coping mechanisms, but we cannot share resources we no longer have.

As we observe globally, and in alignment with government efforts, the most effective way to slow down the pandemic is through effective containment and distancing within the potentially disease-stricken population. Given the sharp increase of COVID-19+ patients per day, we have to act fast, and act now. There is no time for indecision.

Thus, our collective call to action is to centralize all efforts and resources into ONE OR TWO COVID-19 hospitals, adequately equipped and invested upon by the government, designated to receive, screen and treat PUIs and COVID-19 positive patients when the allowable number of cases per hospital, private and public, is exceeded. We are aware that there is a plan to do this; we are urgently appealing for the DOH to mobilize this plan, challenging as it may be, but which the private hospitals are willing and ready to facilitate.

Execution of the plan will allow for concentration of resources, speed of patient processing and efficiency in protocol execution, rendering better chances for infection containment.

With the COVID-19 hospital(s) in place, the other institutions can the focus on the bigger population who need to be treated equally to protect and secure them from the virus, so that they and their families can also be assured of appropriate treatment detached from any threat of COVID-19 infection aggravating their condition.

The possibilities and power of a network set-up like this behooves all of us – in both the private and public sectors – to pursue this plan soon. We are not shying away from our responsibilities; we are ready to take in the non-COVID-19 patients of designated COVID-19 hospitals, and if necessary, provide temporary practice privileges to their medical staff whose (non-COVID-19) patients will be transferred to our hospitals.

This is a plan that we push to be realized without delay. Our objective is to put order and organization on a national scale as we all grapple with dwindling resources, increasing morbidity and mortality, and a decimated healthcare workforce as the virus continues to spread relentlessly.

The group is comprised of Adventist Medical Center, Asian Hospital Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Fatima University Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, Medical Center Manila, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, The Medical City – Ortigas, St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City, St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City, and University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center.

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