MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday issued a call for volunteer doctors and nurses to support the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as government set up three referral hospitals that would treat patients.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said arrangements were being finalized for three state hospitals - the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City- to serve as referral centers for COVID-19 patients.
This followed an appeal from several overwhelmed private hospitals whose staff and resources have been strained by the number of COVID-19 patients and suspected cases in their facilities.
"And now we are going to call on volunteers po, magpo-post po kami, volunteer doctors, nurses… for the augmentation of staff para sa tatlong ospital po na ito," Vergeire said in an interview on DZMM radio.
(And now we are going to call on volunteers, we will post about this, volunteer doctors, nurses... for the augmentation of staff for these three hospitals.)
She said the three government hospitals were being prepared to receive COVID-19 patients, and that they may begin to start admitting cases by the end of next week.
"Maiayos lang po natin itong arrangements natin, maybe at the end of this coming week puwede na ho tayong magtanggap ng mga kaso dito ho sa ospital na ito at hindi na ho sila tatanggap ng hindi COVID-19 cases para lang po ma-decongest natin ang ating mga (private) ospital," Vergeire said.
(Once we finish arrangements, maybe at the end of this coming week we can begin receiving cases in these hospitals and they would no longer accept cases that are not COVID-19 just to decongest our private hospitals.)
Among arrangements being threshed out, she said, are protocols on "strict infection prevention and control" to prevent the spread of the virus in the facilities, especially among hospital staff most exposed to patients.
Such was a chief complaint among private hospitals, who said several of their staff have been placed under quarantine for exposure to coronavirus patients.
Other private and public hospitals, in turn, are "now mandated to accept non-COVID patients," Vergeire said.
In a separate interview, Dr. Jonas del Rosario of the PGH said the hospital was allotting 130 beds for COVID-19 patients, with some wards being cleared out.
He said the hospital would treat coronavirus patients with "moderate to severe" symptoms.
The hospital will continue accepting emergency cases and treatment of those admitted for illnesses such as cancer, but those with mild illnesses should instead go to other hospitals.
As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded 230 cases of the virus, with 18 deaths and 8 recoveries.