MANILA - The occupancy rate in at least 20 private hospitals in Metro Manila has already reached critical levels amid the spike in COVID-19 cases, the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) said on Wednesday.
In a virtual forum, PHAPI President Dr. Jose De Grano that a hospital with a critical occupancy rate means that it has already reached more than 85 percent of its capacity.
Occupancy in 23 other health facilities is at high-risk level, or those which have 70 percent to 85 percent capacity, according to De Grano.
He also saw hospital occupancy increasing in Cebu City and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
“Around 40 percent lang ang occupancy all over the country. However, there are areas like the National Capital Region, probably Region 7 [in] Cebu, and I found out recently, ‘yung CAR na mataas din ang kanilang occupancy rate,” he said.
(CAR has a high occupancy rate.)
He noted that the One Hospital Command could help refer patients to other facilities. Launched in August last year, the command is a centralized hospital occupancy monitoring system that aims to smoothen referrals of COVID-19 patients.
De Grano noted that some private hospitals previously had to “downsize,” supposedly due to delays in PhilHealth reimbursements. He estimated that PHAPI members’ unpaid PhilHealth claims amount to at least P6 billion.
Downsizing, he said, is a “huge problem” that said hospitals had to face in the middle of the health emergency.
The state insurer earlier suspended the interim reimbursement mechanism program to review its overall implementation following the call of some lawmakers over allegedly irregular fund allocations to some hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Around P6 billion, that was in December. Continuous po ‘yan, dahil hindi naman tumitigil ang pasok ng pasyente,” he said.
(That's continuous because patients continue coming in.)
He said an audit committee has been formed in hospitals to ensure documents are in order.
De Grano also pointed out that some private hospitals are hoping to seek help from Congress to claim their reimbursements from PhilHealth, noting their limited manpower.
“Kahit sabihin ng DOH (Department of Health) na you are authorized to make use of 20 percent of bed capacity as COVID beds. Kung ang aming nurses can only manage 10 beds, paano po ‘yun?”
(Even if the DOH says we are authorized to make use of the 20 percent bed capacity as designated COVID-19 beds, our nurses can only manage up to 10 beds. How will we do this?)
As the Lenten holidays near, PHAPI advises the public to stay at home and observe minimum health protocols.
The Philippines on Wednesday reported 4,387 additional COVID-19 cases. For the first time ever, the daily tally topped 4,000 for 6 straight days.
The day's new cases pushed the country's cumulative tally to 635,698.