Treatment czar: NCR ICU utilization rate at low risk, but critical in Bicol


Posted at Jun 18 2021 09:27 AM

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MANILA—The utilization rate for intensive care units in hospitals in Metro Manila is decreasing, but remains critical in Bicol region, treatment czar Leopoldo Vega said on Friday. 

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Vega said Metro Manila is now at a low risk position as its total health care utilization has gone down to 48 percent.

“Kung bibilangin ang isolation beds, ICU, ventilators at saka ’yung ward for COVID mababa,” Vega said. 

“Sa ICU kung ide-disaggregate mo ’yan, ang intensive care unit utilization mababa na rin tayo, nasa 51 percent. Nasa low-risk position kaya lumuwang na rin ang Metro Manila compared sa two months ago na nasa critical and high risk position talaga ’yung intensive care unit.”

(The rate is low if you count the isolation beds, ICU, ventilators and COVID wards. If you disaggregate the ICU, that rate is lower at 51 percent. We’re in a low-risk position, so Metro Manila is freeing up more beds. Two months ago, ICUs were in critical and high-risk position.)

As for manpower, Vega said that of the more than 3,000 positions they opened for doctors, nurses and medical technology workers, about 700 remains unfilled.

However, Bicol’s hospital utilization rate remains critical due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area.

“Mataas ang Bicol ngayon, nagsu-surge sila. In fact, may pag-uusap na kami ni [Albay 2nd District] Cong. [Joey] Salceda ang mga needs nila at parang gagawing strategy sa Bicol area, kasi alam namin Naga saka Legazpi area medyo tumataas ang surge. Kaya medyo aggressive na ang kanilang testing at contact tracing at isolation sa area na ’yun dahil kung di nila gagawin ito tataas talaga,” he said. 

(There’s a surge in Bicol now. We’ve been talking to Congressman Salceda about what they need there and what strategy we need to employ to slow down the surge. Naga and Legazpi, there’s a surge that’s why testing, contact-tracing and isolating the infected have been aggressive. Those have to be done to stem the increase.)

Vega said the region has two government hospitals that can expand beds for COVID-19 patients. 

“Sa Naga may government hospital doon na pwedeng mag-allocate ng bigger allocation of beds. Ito ’yung Bicol Medical Center at saka sa Legazpi namann nandoon ’yung Bicol Training and Teaching Hospital, malaki din ’yun, nasa 350 beds na pwede silang mag-allocate,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vega said health officials have upgraded the One Hospital Command center with more people manning helping coordinate patients to hospitals.

“Nag-hire kami ng more coordinators saka mga call agents, saka mga doctors to man itong One Hospital Command. In fact, nakapag-hire kami mga 80-plus kasi alam namin last surge na-overwhelm din ang One Hospital Command, kaya dumami din ang aming recruitment at saka nagbukas din kami ng maraming communication lines to the public,” he said.

Medical experts in Bicol are appealing to the government pandemic task force to place the region under stricter quarantine measure due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

The region, except for Naga, is under modified general community quarantine.

As of June 14, Bicol has logged more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases, of which 488 have died from the disease. The region currently has more than 5,000 active cases or patients deemed infectious.

A regional command center was also established in Region 4A and Region 3 for an easier coordination between patients and medical facilities. They also have regional command centers for Central Visayas and Mindanao.
“Balak namin maglagay ng command center sa Negros Oriental para ma-coordinate din operations centers ng mga LGU para mabigyan din sila ng sapat na suporta at coordination coming from the national government,” he said.

As of Thursday, the Philippines logged 1,339,457 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 58,407 active infections.