COVID-hit Philippine Orthopedic Center suspends outpatient services, ER still open


Posted at Apr 03 2021 10:29 AM | Updated as of Apr 04 2021 08:35 AM

COVID-hit Philippine Orthopedic Center suspends outpatient services, ER still open 1
Philippine Orthopedic Center Facebook page

Hospital appeals for PPE, face mask donations

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine Orthopedic Center announced Saturday it would close outpatient services for the meantime while its emergency room would remain open for orthopedic patients after over a hundred of its staff tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, the Quezon City-based hospital said it would accommodate consultations through its Facebook page as it adjusts its operations. 

The number of its staff who tested positive for the novel coronavirus also climbed to 117 from 110 reported Friday night, the announcement read. POC's frontliners earlier sought isolation because of this. 

"The Philippine Orthopedic Center has been servicing patients despite the lockdown for over a year. With a range of outpatients between 350 to 450 a day, and the increasing positivity rate of COVID patients, 117 out of 180 swabbed staff turned positive," the statement read. 

POC's elective surgeries, meanwhile, will be put on hold, while its staff will work on an adjusted schedule. 

The hospital also said it would help facilitate quarantine for its staff who are in need through the Department of Health's (DOH) One Hospital Command Center. 

It has opened an isolation facility with 30 beds for its healthcare workers, said Sean Herbert Velchez, head of the hospital's employees' union.

"Nananawagan kami sa DOH na patuloy magbukas ng isolation facilities para sa mga healthcare workers at ating mga kababayaan na walang kakayahan mag-isolate," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo on Sunday.

(We call on the DOH to continue opening isolation facilities for healthcare workers and those who don't have any capacity to isolate.)

As of Saturday, 216 patients are confined in the hospital. The orthopedic center is also caring for 12 COVID-19 patients. Its service areas and offices have already been disinfected, the hospital said. 

"As of April 2, 36 have been facilitated admission in quarantine centers. This is over the 40 allotted beds POC can accommodate for its own staff," the POC said. 

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The POC also appealed for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and face mask donations, saying its staff would need to practice double masking as a precaution against rising COVID-19 cases among them. 

"POC will continue with its mandate as a specialty hospital for orthopedic care even during this difficult time," the hospital said. 

Its employees' union called on the public to stop discrimination against COVID positive health workers, said Velchez.

"Nadi-discriminate po ang mga healthcare workers namin sa kasalukuyan. Ayaw isakay ng taxi at may kumakalat na text messages na 'wag na pong gumawi sa Banawe. 'Di po nakakahawa ang pagdaan sa Banawe o anumang bahagi ng Quezon City," he said.

(Our healthcare workers are being discriminated against. They are being turned away by taxis, and there are text messages going around asking the public to avoid Banawe. You will not get infected if you travel along Banawe or any part of Quezon City.) 

"Patuloy po tayong mag-ingat at alamin ang katotohanan, at 'wag po tayo maniwala sa fake news."

(Let's continue to be safe, and know the truth and not believe in fake news.)

The country is battling a new surge in COVID-19 infections, with Friday's cases rising to over 15,000, the highest daily jump in new infections since the pandemic reached the Philippines over a year ago. 

Many hospitals in Metro Manila already declared full capacity, with intensive care units and COVID-dedicated facilities in the region hitting high to critical levels reminiscent of last year's peak. 

The health department on Friday night said 17 hospitals directly under it remains "operational" amid reports that some hospitals already suspended operations due to a spike in fresh COVID-19 infections. 

The agency said it is also providing support for health care workers "by facilitating hospital or isolation facility admission."

"The DOH... continues to augment hospital resources by downloading funds to the hospitals for hiring of additional personnel, purchase of medicines, and referral of patients to the appropriate facility," it said.