MANILA— A medical group on Saturday said Malacañang's proposal to give health frontliners a chance to rest may not be possible yet as the shortage in hospital workers remains a problem with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque had on Thursday proposed a break for hospital frontliners, claiming only about 50 percent of ward, isolation, and ICU beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients are currently occupied across the country amid an infection downtrend.
But Philippine Hospital Association President Dr. Jaime Almora said apart from attending to patients infected with COVID-19, medical frontliners also need to respond to the increasing number of non-coronavirus cases like heart attacks and strokes.
“As long as there is a case remaining, people will still be needed to attend to them. Because there is a shortage of manpower, should their services be not needed to attend to COVID-19 cases, there are many other non-COVID-19 patients that they have to attend to,” Almora said in an interview on ANC.
Hospitals should also be prepared for possible intermittent surges in COVID-19 patients, he added.
“The way patients arrive, though it is true that there is a decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the hospitals, the arrival of these cases is unpredictable. Pabugso-bugso (inconsistent), that’s why they need to be ready,” he said.
While he hoped that there would come a time during the pandemic where frontliners could take a break, it’s far-fetched for now as they struggle to provide quality care for every patient with the manpower available.
“I wish it will come true but the business of healing is not that simple, it's not about numbers, it's about quality. So it doesn't matter whether there is one patient or there are 10 patients.... The number of people in a team, because this is a team approach, will still remain the same,” he said.
In August, medical frontliners sought a timeout from the unending crisis and urged government to raise the quarantine level following a surge in COVID-19 cases because of relaxed restrictions. This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place Metro Manila and surrounding provinces back under modified enhanced community quarantine for two weeks.
As of Friday, the country has recorded 351,750 total coronavirus infections, 294,865 recoveries and 6,531 fatalities. Active cases, meanwhile, reached 50,354.