Cebu hospitals ‘racing against time’ to raise Covid-19 capacity

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PRIVATE hospitals in Cebu are “racing against time” to provide more beds for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients as cases continue to increase in Cebu City, currently considered one of the hotspots in the country.

At the same time, Cebu Doctors' University Hospital (CDUH) president and chairman Dr. Potenciano Larrazabal III aired an appeal to doctors to volunteer their services.

“It’s a race against time. The worst thing that can happen...panic and chaos. When people can’t get to the hospitals, it creates a lot of chaos and panic. So as hospital providers, we are racing against time to provide more beds...(so) we can accept for Covid cases,” he said in a virtual press briefing with the Department of Health (DOH) Friday, July 3, 2020.

“But at the same time, beds are useless if we don’t have doctors. So if doctors can volunteer, we’d gladly accept them, even house them and provide meals as long as they can help us,” he added.

Larrazabal said private hospitals did not immediately expand their facilities because “there were no patients” in the early days of the Covid-19 epidemic in Cebu.

“It was only after GCQ that the demand for Covid beds increased. But the problem is, simultaneously, there were a lot of resignations because a lot of nurses were afraid,” he said.

When cases suddenly increased and more patients sought medical assistance, Larrazabal said “most hospitals weren’t prepared”.

Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) by Mayor Edgardo Labella on March 28. For the month of May, President Rodrigo Duterte included Cebu City among the ECQ areas nationwide.

Restrictions were eased and Cebu City shifted to general community quarantine to June 1 to 15.

On June 16, however, it was reverted to ECQ as cases spiked due to widespread community transmission and severely or critically ill patients filled the critical care beds in hospitals.

As Cebu City became one of the Covid-19 hotspots in the country, government asked the CDUH and other large private hospitals in Cebu to expand their Covid-19 capacity.

Larrazabal said the CDUH emergency room (ER) is being expanded to enable the hospital to cater to more Covid-19 patients as well as non-Covid patients.

The CDUH emergency room is now divided into a Covid-19 ER and a “clean” or non-Covid ER, which will be operational Saturday, July 4.

The existing ER, which has 25 beds, will be devoted solely to Covid-19 patients while the extension, which was established with the use of tents, will cater to non-Covid cases.

This should reduce the number of patients waiting outside the ER, Larrazabal said. Photos of patients waiting outside ERs because they could not be accommodated yet previously created panic on social media.

A new ward with 50 beds designated for Covid-19 patients will also open next week at the CDUH, Larrazabal said.

But this facility could not accept patients without doctors and nurses assigned to man it.

“Of course, we could not open this until we get more support from the DOH. DOH has promised to give us more nurses,” Larrazabal said.

The hospital has also modified its ICU to allow consultants to observe patients and leave without having to change their personal protective equipment (PPE).

The CDUH earlier welcomed 15 nurses from its branch in Ormoc City in Leyte, which is not as badly hit by the Covid-19 epidemic.

The DOH also provided CDUH initially with 10 nurses. Two other large private hospitals, Chong Hua Hospital and University of Cebu Medical Center, were also provided with 10 government nurses each. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)


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