More health workers, COVID-19 beds needed as Iloilo City's hospitals reach full capacity

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2021 06:47 PM | Updated as of Jul 30 2021 06:48 PM

MANILA - Despite seeing a slight decrease in its COVID-19 cases, hospitals in Iloilo City are still running out of COVID-19 beds and medical personnel, its mayor said on Friday. 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said almost all hospitals in their city are already at full capacity, leading him to seek help from the Department of Health (DOH) for additional dedicated beds and manpower. 

“It will be within the powers of the DOH to help the hospitals open up more beds for isolation and intensive care by adding more (health care workers) to the hospitals. But for Iloilo City, there’s really nothing we can do," the mayor told ABS-CBN News. 

"Our cases have been going down in the past 10 days but if you look at the health care utilization rate, it will continue to go up for as long as the other provinces will be sending patients to hospitals here,” he added. 

Treñas attributed their situation to areas outside the city that kept on sending patients. Many severe and critical COVID-19 patients from Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras and the provinces of Iloilo, he said, are being referred to them.

In fact, he said, about 60 percent of the patients admitted in their hospitals come from these provinces, some of which are still under general community quarantine.

“While the hospitals are full, both for isolation beds and ICU beds... the patients come from Iloilo Province and other provinces of Panay and Guimaras," according to the local chief executive. 

"The provinces outside Iloilo are under GCQ. It will be very difficult for us to get out of these things, considering that the provinces sending patients here are under GCQ." 

Treñas also noted that hospitals cannot expand their capacity because PhilHealth has yet to reimburse their claims.

Because of this, some patients have to line up for at least 3 days just to get a room. 

"We also understand the hospitals have an issue with PhilHealth, and it is because of that issue that hospitals are finding it difficult to open more beds,” he said.

DELTA VARIANT

More than two months after being placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Iloilo City recorded on Thursday its first carrier of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.

The infected 30-year-old man, who is unvaccinated for COVID-19, was transferred to a quarantine facility. He supposedly has no travel history and no close contact in his workplace.

His wife also tested positive for the virus, according to the mayor, but the couple’s 2 children tested negative for the disease. 
 
This is why the mayor ordered to place their residence and workplace under lockdown. Contact tracing will also be done

Iloilo City’s ECQ status has been extended until Aug. 7. With this, Treñas appealed to the national government for more vaccines.
 
“We should give as much Ilonggos protection as fast as possible because that is precisely the reason why we are under ECQ is because the number of cases are increasing. Unless they do that, the cases will not drop and we will forever be in limbo in this quarantine status,” he said.

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He continued: “We can vaccinate up to 16,000 a day and the more vaccines they can give us, the more Ilonggos will be given protection. We do not have any problem on acceptance of the vaccines, there is no hesitancy, people want to be vaccinated, they want to be protected.”
 
As of Wednesday, 142,774 individuals have received their first jab against the virus in Iloilo City. This accounts for 27 percent of the target population. 

Some 84,528 individuals or 16 percent of the target population, meanwhile, have been fully vaccinated.