Hospitals urged: Suspend elective admissions to make way for COVID-19 patients

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2021 09:18 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2021 09:46 AM

Hospitals urged: Suspend elective admissions to make way for COVID-19 patients 1
Tents are set-up to accommodate probable or suspected COVID-19 patients outside the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo, Manila on August 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Hospitals are urged to suspend elective and surgical admissions to make way for COVID-19 patients as government expands bed capacity and isolation facilities, an official said Wednesday.

About 60 percent of COVID-19 ward and isolation beds are in use, while 73 to 76 percent of intensive care units are occupied, treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega earlier said.

Government is setting up more isolation facilities and temporary treatment facilities, particularly in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Mimaropa where virus patients were referred to last year as Metro Manila hospitals reached full capacity, Vega said.

Utilization of COVID-19 beds in hospitals in the provinces are at "moderate risk" level, Vega said. 

Hospitals are classified under moderate risk if 60 to 79 percent of its COVID-19 beds are occupied, and as high risk if 70 to 80 percent of COVID-19 beds are in use, according to the health department's website. 

"Kailangan 'yan masuspend muna ang elective at surgical admission na non-COVID. 'Yung pwede pa naman makahintay ng 2 weeks i-suspend muna para naman ma-prioritize ang COVID," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(Hospitals need to suspend elective and surgical admission that are non-COVID. Suspend the procedure of those who can wait 2 weeks in order to prioritize COVID patients.)

The health department prohibits home quarantine, Vega added. Mild and asymptomatic patients are urged to go to isolation facilities while moderate to severe patients must be admitted to the hospital, he said.

"Talagang binabawal po namin 'yan kasi iba ngayon ang transmission rate, mas mataas," he said. "Kawawa naman pag tinamaan ang mga vulnerable."

(We really prohibit this because the virus transmission rate now is higher. It will be difficult if the vulnerable were infected.)

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Manila's Tondo Medical Center has 102 patients and only 94 beds, its medical chief Dr. Maria Estrella said. Some patients are admitted to the hospital's tents and are transferred to its COVID ward when bed becomes available, she said.

One of the hospital's wings are under renovation which resulted in 26 fewer beds, the medical center chief said.

The hospital also has 33 patients out of its 50 beds at the Philippine International Convention Center, Estrella added. These patients are just continuing their isolation or medication, she said.

"We allot spaces for them para kahit papaano hindi po sila na-echepuwera sa situation natin, habang nasa pandemya tayo," she said.

(We allot spaces for them so they are not neglected in our current situation, as we face the pandemic.)

"Lagpas na siya pero we still continue to see COVID patients dito sa aming ER (emergency room)."

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Hospitals in Metro Manila are projected to reach full capacity by Holy Week if government fails to slow down COVID-19 transmission, independent research group OCTA earlier said.

The country could reach 10,000 daily new cases by the end of the month, half likely to be recorded in the capital region, if the current daily trend continues, it added.