BACOLOD City Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chairman of Bacolod City Inter-Agency Task Force against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), has expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for answering the urgent appeal of Mayor Evelio Leonardia to send an augmentation team of doctors, nurses, and medical technologists from Department of Health (DOH) to Bacolod.

Leonardia said Tuesday, August 25, that the augmentation team is needed as an emergency stop-gap measure before the city's health care system bogs down due to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

"It's a good news for all of us, we need the help of the National Government. Secretary Roy Cimatu will come here with other Cabinet officials to assess the Covid-19 situation here," Familiaran said.

Leonardia made the emergency and urgent appeal to Duterte to send to Bacolod, through the DOH, an augmentation team of 150 nurses, 20 doctors, and 30 medical technologists.

Senator Bong Go informed the mayor that three Cabinet officials are arriving to meet with Bacolod City officials Thursday, August 27, to assess the Covid-19 situation and to determine what immediate assistance the National Government can give to the city to help stem the spread of Covid-19.

Go, in a text message, told Leonardia that the contingent will be led by Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino and Environment Secretary Cimatu, who was also sent by Duterte to Cebu on a special mission to help them at the height of the Covid crisis there.

They will be joined by General Mel Feliciano, partner of Cimatu in the Cebu mission.

The group first visited Iloilo City on Wednesday before proceeding to Bacolod where they will hold separate meetings with officials of the City and those of the province.

Dino promised the mayor that the National Government "will go all the way" and give "full support" to help Bacolod City.

General Robert Ancan, of the AFP Visayas Command Center in Cebu, in a follow-up call to Leonardia, also promised to field, as soon as possible, a medical team composed of Army doctors, nurses, and support health workers to augment the dwindling number of medical health workers here who are stricken with Covid-19 themselves or have resigned.

Ancan further assured the mayor of further medical equipment support after an evaluation.

In another phone call to Leonardia, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp), who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force on Covid-19, promised to catch up with the Thursday meeting of city officials with Dino.

However, if he cannot make it, Galvez assured the mayor that he will come to Bacolod next week.

Galvez also promised Leonardia "to deploy Region 7 nurses and doctors there (Bacolod)" and that he will also arrange with DOH-Western Visayas to bring in more medical personnel to help fill the gap in the City's need for more doctors and nurses.

He will also put in place, through DOH-Western Visayas, arrangements with certain Bacolod hotels to serve as "bend-down" facilities to take in recovering Covid patients who will be discharged earlier from hospitals, so that hospital beds can be freed to admit new critically-ill Covid patients.

Galvez also assured Leonardia that he will "deploy 5 High-Flow Nasal Cannula" to the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital and facilitate that the said hospital will have stocks of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug now used for seriously-ill Covid patients.

Leonardia made an urgent appeal because he was alarmed by the fact that last August 23, Bacolod hospitals had refused admission to new Covid patients, saying they have already reached full capacity or that there are no more doctors and nurses to take care of new Covid patients.

"Our need for medical staff to fill up the gap in our hospitals is great, Mr. President. Patients have already died in their homes for failing to avail of emergency hospital services," the mayor said.

These patients could have been given help had there been enough medical personnel in these hospitals, he added in his appeal.