ONE of the first responses of the City Government of Davao to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic was to designate a hospital that will handle and treat positive cases.
This strategy of the city can be traced back to March 23, 2020 when Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio signed Executive Order (EO) 20, which is a set of guidelines when the city was placed under community quarantine from March 16 to April 19.
Section 1, No. 13 of the EO 20 states that "All private hospitals in Davao City are not allowed to admit PUIs and Covid-19 positive patients. The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) shall be the primary hospital for severe and critical Covid-19 PUI (persons under investigation) and positive patients. Other centers available for mild PUIs shall receive patients referred to them by SPMC)."
"We set the rules on the private hospitals to protect the health services sector," Duterte-Carpio said in a radio interview on Thursday, March 26.
In her latest order, EO 47-A, Section 17 (a) states that SPMC "shall be the primary hospital for suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients. Other public and private hospitals, including temporary treatment and monitoring facilities prepared by the City Government of Davao shall receive patients received by SPMC."
Section 17 (b), meanwhile, states that "all private hospitals in Davao City are not allowed to admit suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients." It added that should there be a need for private hospitals to cater to suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients, they "shall be on decking order in the opening of their facilities." They will be informed accordingly by the city government and the Department of Health (DOH) when they will be operationalized as a Covid-19 hospital.
The strategic move of the city government to designate SPMC as the primary Covid-19 hospital in the city has allowed it to prevent Covid-19 from spreading within other hospitals. This move also allowed it to prevent Covid-19 transmission among health care workers. In a nutshell, having a designated Covid-19 hospital in the city prevented the local health care system from collapsing. It also shows the benefits of different sectors working together to contain the virus.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of the city's Covid-19 response. The city has also established temporary treatment and monitoring facilities for asymptomatic and some mild patients to complement SPMC.
Patients who fear going to SPMC, may opt to safely go to non-Covid-19 hospitals for other medical treatments.
This strategy of the City Government was also recognized by Carlito Galvez Jr., Presidential Advisor on Peace Process and National Task Force for Covid-19 chief implementor.
"Maganda po and ginagawa po sa Davao nung si Mayor Sara nagkaroon po siya ng desisyon na iba po 'yung Covid cases at saka 'yung sa non-Covid (It was a good idea for the city to have a Covid-19 designated hospital)," Galvez Jr. said on Monday, September 14.
If local government units, provincial government units, and regional task forces against Covid-19 decide to designate a Covid-19 hospital, they can replicate some of the success of Davao City in the management of the Covid-19 situation in their respective areas. In the long run, they can prevent straining their local health systems, contain the spread of the virus, and allow other healthcare facilities to cater to other illnesses.
However, this is easier said than done. Compared to other hospitals in the country, without a doubt, SPMC has the facilities and the capacity to handle Covid-19 patients. Therefore, the strategy implemented in Davao City also serves as an eye-opener for the current situation of other hospitals in the country -- there is a need to modernize our health facilities.
"Kailangan na po nating i-modernize ang ating healthcare system. Matagal na pong napabayaan po 'yung ating healthcare system kaya po ito po nakikita natin na malaki ang gap ngayon nating hinaharap (There is a need to modernize our healthcare system, which has been left behind for a long time. This is a problem that we are facing right now)," Galvez said.