MANILA - A group of private hospitals said Monday its members do not have enough personnel to man additional beds following the health department's directive to raise capacity in the event of another surge due to the Delta variant.
Private hospitals can add more beds but it would be short-staffed to care for moderate to critical patients, said Dr. Jose Rene Degrano, president of the Private Hospitals Association Philippines.
Majority of private hospitals have allotted 20 percent of their bed capacity to COVID-19 patients as mandated by government, he added.
"Laging nakahanda, ang nagiging limitasyon lang namin ngayon po kulang talaga ang aming staff, nurses," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(We're always ready, our limitation is just that we're short of staff and nurses.)
"Sana po kayanin ng ating private hospitals. Kaya namin maglagay ng kama, ang problema ang staff namin."
(I hope private hospitals can withstand it. We can put more beds, the problem would be our staff.)
PhilHealth's delayed reimbursement for COVID-19 cases also add to private hospitals' problems, Degrano said.
"Ang inaangal nila po, ang mga COVID cases nung 2020, base sa survey na ginawa ng PHA (Philippine Hospital Association) at PHAPI, mga 4 percent pa lang po ang naibabayad sa mga ospital," he said without further details.
(Private hospitals complained that of the COVID cases in 2020, around 4 percent have been reimbursed to hospitals, based on a survey conducted by the PHA and PHAPI.)
A hospital in Digos City, Davao del Sur and another in Samar province have temporarily closed due to financial constraints, he added.
Authorities eye deploying health workers to high-risk areas from other government agencies, or hiring more medical professionals, said Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, the country's COVID-19 treatment "czar."
"Hindi lang 'yong space at structure ang talagang i-improve natin… but also the staffing and services," Vega, who leads the One Hospital Command Center, said in a press briefing.
(We will improve not just the space and structure, but also the staffing and services.)
Sixteen people had been found with the Delta variant, including 5 who had returned from abroad. The other 11 were locally acquired cases, the health department said on Friday.
The Delta variant--which was first detected in India--is more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain due to the presence of the L452R mutation, which allows the virus to get past the immune system and spread faster in cells.