MANILA - The Department of Health is expanding modular health facilities in Metro Manila to cope with the COVID-19 surge which has been straining hospitals in the capital region, a health official said Wednesday.
"We're coping this up in terms of expanding the number of infrastructures by the setup that we did since last year of a modular field hospital here in Metro Manila," treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega told ANC.
The bed capacity of modular health facilities in the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Tala, Caloocan City have been increased, he added.
A similar facility in Quezon Institute, which is managed by the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, has also been operationalized.
"This is something we are really trying to expand because the number of, especially the allocated beds here for COVID, is not enough to cover the surge that we have, which is roughly more than we saw in August of 2020," Vega said.
Building modular hospitals, which are intended to treat patients with moderate and severe COVID-19, takes about 45 days. They are designed by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The Philippines is facing surging coronavirus infections, reaching for the first time more than 10,000 cases on Monday.
To date, more than 740,000 have been infected by the virus, of which over 603,000 recovered while 13,000 died. The tally also includes more than 124,000 active cases, the highest among Southeast Asian nations.
In the interview, Vega bared that the One Hospital Command Center, a referral network linked with service providers such as hospitals, quarantine facilities and medical transportation, has also been overwhelmed by the spike in coronavirus infections.
"Because of the surge, the One Hospital Command [Center] is also experiencing a lot of strain and a number of calls. With respect to the number of calls last month, we had an average of 68 to 70 calls per day but now we are receiving almost 400 calls per day," he said.
To decongest hospitals from COVID-19 admission, mild and asymptomatic cases are brought to temporary treatment or isolation centers. Some COVID-19 patients are also being referred to hospitals in other regions.
"If you're admitted at a COVID ward or isolation, [it takes] a minimum of 10 days but the ICU (intensive care unit) can extend up to more than 30 days. In other words, there's a longer turnaround time," Vega said.
The health official also said they had gathered some 40 doctors from different provinces, in which they would be deployed to various health institutions. Mass hiring for other health care professionals is also ongoing, he added.
Vega admitted that hospitals were caught off-guard by the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases due to the presence of more contagious coronavirus variants.
"Most of the institutions were not ready for this because some of the hospitals at this time were already converting their COVID beds towards non-COVID because there were a number of non-COVID patients who also needed admission and also needed the required treatment. So, everybody had to readjust in terms of allocation of COVID beds," he said.