891 employees at Southern Philippines Medical Center test positive for COVID-19

Hernel Tocmo

Posted at Jan 29 2022 02:35 PM

 Southern Philippines Medical Center said as of January 27, 2022, its ICU Bed and Ward Bed capacities were both at 100 percent. Southern Philippines Medical Center.
Southern Philippines Medical Center said as of January 27, 2022, its ICU Bed and Ward Bed capacities were both at 100 percent. Southern Philippines Medical Center.

DAVAO—Almost 900 employees of Southern Philippines Medical Center tested positive for COVID-19 this month, its medical chief said on Saturday.

SPMC’s Dr. Ricardo Audan confirmed that most of the 891 employees who contracted the virus were under home isolation, while only 30 were admitted to the healthcare facility.

"I think it's the work of omicron. Ang mabuti lang dito, ’yung lahat ng nag-positive, fully vaccinated. And I think, karamihan din, naka-booster na," Audan told ABS-CBN News.

Due to staff shortage, Audan said SPMC has reduced the quarantine time for infected employees from 7 days to 5 days. 

"Bale sinunod din namin ’yung guidelines ng IATF na 7 days fully vaccinated, ginawa na naming 5 days (ang quarantine) kasi talagang medyo ma-paralyze ang operation. But then, hindi kami nag-close, patuloy pa rin yung serbisyo namin sa mga tao," he said.

Hospital management has sought additional manpower from the Department of Health, but Audan said the health agency did not have sufficient staff, too. 

Audan said the hospital has written the National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., requesting for health workers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bureau of Fire Protection. 

SPMC tapped these agencies during the first COVID-19 surge in the Davao Region last year. But their personnel was recalled when the situation eased.

Meanwhile, both the ICU and ward bed utilization rates at SPMC have reached 100 percent as all of its 87 ICU beds and 473 ward beds were occupied.

"Wala kaming problema mag-expand. In fact, mayroon kaming waiting na another 60 beds for expansion. The problem is ’yung staffing talaga," Audan said.

SPMC, one of the country's largest hospitals, has said it would mainly cater to moderate to critical COVID-19 cases due to the influx of coronavirus patients.

The hospital also temporarily closed its outpatient department's face-to-face services, referring clients instead to its virtual consultation platform.