‘Incident command’ system for COVID-19 patient referrals set up in hospitals in NCR, other areas

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2020 05:30 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) said Friday it has established a system that would ensure efficient patient referrals amid the rising number of COVID-19 patients as hospitals report reaching full capacity. 

The DOH said that the “one hospital command” system will require each hospital to have an incident commander who will ensure patient referrals.

“This is one big network of hospitals within each area,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a media briefing.

“For example within the National Capital Region, nag-set up ng Incident Command. May mga point persons na incident commander sa bawat ospital,” she explained.

(For example within the National Capital Region, there is an Incident Command. There are point persons who are incident commanders for each hospital.)

The DOH Command System was first publicly mentioned on Wednesday as more hospitals in Metro Manila announced that their COVID-19 wards and beds were all occupied.

NCR and other areas have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases following the easing of quarantine measures in a bid to revive the economy crippled by coronavirus lockdowns earlier this year.

“So every time na may darating na pasyente diyan sa ospital at hindi na matatanggap pa ng ating ospital, itong incident commander will be flagging this already to the incident command system,” Vergeire said.

(So every time a patient arrives and they cannot be accommodated by the hospital, the incident commander will be flagging this to the incident command system.)

Vergeire said the system includes a map of hospitals in the area where the patient can be referred to. There is also data on the available intensive care unit beds and COVID-19 ward beds.

She said the system is meant to make the network of hospitals more efficient and help patients quickly find a health facility that can admit them.

Since the start of the lockdown, there have been a number of reports of patients being forced to go from hospital to hospital, only to be denied admission. 

But Vergeire reiterated that hospitals are responsible for finding another facility that would accept their walk-in patients.

“It should not be the patient looking for the hospital for them to be admitted to,” she said.

Vergeire said the system would allow public and private hospitals to coordinate with each other. It will also involve local government units and other concerned groups.

The DOH said that the command system will ensure that the sector has enough critical care services.

It will also help refer mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases to temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.