MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - A group of hospitals on Monday sought "reinforcement" from government as medical facilities in Metro Manila have been overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Hospitals in Metro Manila are projected to reach full capacity by Holy Week if the government fails to slow down COVID-19 transmission, independent research group OCTA earlier said.
Jaime Almora, president of the Philippine Hospital Association, said several big hospitals are at a "critical" level with more than 70 percent of their COVID-19 beds utilized.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, in a separate TeleRadyo interview, said doctors and health experts asked for a "timeout" for 2 weeks.
"Hindi ho timeout ang solusyon po, reinforcement po," Almora told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. "We are requesting na reinforcement sana manggaling sa agencies na health-related po."
(Timeout is not the solution. We are requesting for reinforcement from health-related agencies.)
"Pagod na po ang mga nurses. Kulang na kulang po ang nurses. Ang reinforcement, manggagaling sa ibang agency, military at saka pulis kasi karamihan sa mga nurses namin nasa kanila na kasi malaki ang suweldo doon."
(Nurses are tired and their numbers are not enough. The reinforcement will come from the military and police because most of our nurses are now employed with them due to bigger salary.)
A year into the pandemic, nurses have yet to receive their COVID-19 benefits, said Jaymee de Guzman, national treasurer of Filipino Nurses United.
"'Yung benefits sa healthworkers, wala pa ring natatanggap. Pahirapan po 'yan, kahit na mag-positive ka. Ang dami nilang hinihingi to the point na ayaw mo na lang mag-claim," she told TeleRadyo.
(Healthworkers have yet to receive their benefits, even if you test positive. They have so many requirements to the point you don't want to claim it.)
"Sa tagal, hindi pa rin natin na-perfect 'yung tamang proseso. 'Yung contact tracing di pa rin maalawak. 'Yung mass testing sa posibleng pasyente, hindi pa rin accessible sa ordinaryong tao. Wala tayong karagdang quarantine facilities."
(It's been a long time and we've yet to perfect the right process. Contact tracing is still not expansive. Mass testing is not accessible to the ordinary people. We have no additional quarantine facilities.)
The Department of Health is "open" to augmenting the staff of hospitals nationwide, said treatment czar Leopoldo Vega.
""As of now, I think we’re still maintaining 12,000 augmented health workers across the country. If there is a gap, a need...then the DOH is open in terms of augmentation, of emergency hiring," he told ANC.
Meantime, COVID-19 patients who are from the provinces are urged to go to their local hospitals as local cases are filling up Metro Manila's medical facilities, Almora said.
The COVID-19 bed capacity of Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center is full, according to its medical director Imelda Mateo.
The hospital has 70 coronavirus patients, with 8 more awaiting admission and 18 others waiting for their test results, according to Mateo.
"Compared sa last year, parang mas mataas pa rin ngayon. As of last night, puno na po ang aming COVID beds," she told TeleRadyo.
(Compared last year, it seems high. As of last night, our COVID bed capacity is full.)
The Medical City, in a statement, also said its COVID-19 units have reached full capacity status.
"We regret to announce that as of March 22, 2021, our COVID-19 ER, floors and ICU units have reached full capacity status," it said.
As of Monday, the Philippines has recorded 671,792 total COVID-19 cases. The tally includes 12,972 deaths, 577,850 recoveries, and 80,970 active cases.