IATF launches One Hospital Command to improve COVID-19 patient referral system

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2020 11:02 AM

A health worker in full protective gear is on duty at the Ospital ng Sampaloc, April 30, 2020. The hospital reopened following a temporary shutdown of operations after many of its doctors and nurses tested positive for COVID-19. Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 response on Monday launched the One Hospital Command, a centralized hospital occupancy monitoring system that aims to smoothen referrals of COVID-19 patients. 

This as medical facilities in the country were getting overwhelmed with the rising number of coronavirus cases, reaching over 115,000 as of latest count. Some patients reported they were being turned away from hospitals that were already full. 

“Kailangang-kailangan po natin ang mekanismo na ito (We really need this mechanism),” said Sec. Carlito Galvez, National Task Force chief implementer during the launch at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Operations Center in Makati.

“This system will help the government in efficiently overseeing the coordination and referral of patients across all health facilities and ensure we have enough hospital beds for moderate and severe cases,” he added.

Health Secretary and IATF chair Francisco Duque III said the One Hospital Command Center will be used to monitor the occupancy of hospital beds.

The Department of Health earlier said that incident commanders for each hospital would have access to real-time data on the occupancy of other hospitals to help them find another facility for patients they could not accommodate. 

NTF Chair Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the objective is to set up more command centers in other regions.

“Kami sa task force nakatanggap ng tawag ng mga may sakit na talagang walang mapuntahan at nag-iyakan na. 'Pero nung kami ay nagtawag mayroon naman,” he said, explaining the need for a centralized system.

(We at the task force have been receiving calls from sick patients who cannot be accommodated by hospitals and they were crying. But when we made calls, we found hospitals that could receive them.)

Duque said their goal is to decongest hospitals of mild and asymptomatic patients.

“And it’s a bit more of a challenge for private hospitals because 'yung clientele ng private hospitals mahirap talikuran 'yang mga 'yan komo may kaya at demanding,” he said, adding that they are looking for hotels to serve as step-down facilities for those patients.

(And it's a bit more of a challenge for private hospitals because the clientele in private hospitals, it's hard to turn them away because they have the means and they are demanding.)

He said this as the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and nearby provinces continued to rise.

Duque said mild and asymptomatic patients should be transferred to temporary treatment and monitoring facilities. 

He said patients in these facilities should “be shown that the care continues.”

“The doctor goes down to the step down facility,” he said. “It’s as if they were still in the hospital.”