'Punuan lahat': Lung Center reports full occupancy of ICU, critical case beds for COVID-19

Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 01:32 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2020 01:41 PM

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MANILA – The Lung Center of the Philippines' bed allocations for critical COVID-19 patients, including those in intensive care units, is filled up, the hospital’s spokesperson said Wednesday.

“As far as ICU and critical cases are concerned, napuno na yung aming ICU beds and ICU wings, Dr. Norberto Francisco told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(As far as ICU and critical cases are concerned, we have reached full capcity for our ICU beds and wings.)

Francisco said the hospital dedicated 75 percent of its bed capacity to severe and critical COVID-19 patients.

“Kaya nirereserba namin yung resources ng ospital para dito. But the past 2 to 3 days, ang bilis napuno,” Francisco said.

(We reserved hospital resources for this but for the past 2 to 3 days it was quickly occupied.)

The government-run hospital has a total bed capacity of around 250.

But because of the pandemic, it converted their rooms that used to occupy up to 8 beds into 1 as COVID patients need to be isolated, reducing the hospital's operational capacity to 169 beds.

Of the reduced capacity, 75 percent are dedicated to COVID-19 patients, said Francisco. The remaining 25 percent are for non-COVID cases that they also have to take care of.

“Dito sa 75 percent na dinedicate namin sa COVID, punuan lahat ang mga ICU beds doon. Lahat ng kama for COVID, nasa 83 percent na ang occupancy. Pero ang natitirang kama, pang mga moderate (cases) na lang,” he said.

(Of the 75 percent that we dedicated to COVID patients, all of the ICU beds there have been occupied. Around 83 percent of the COVID beds are occupied. The remaining beds are for moderate cases.)

This indicates that more COVID-19 patients are arriving compared to those being discharged.

"The only way to explain the increase in occupancy rate will be the volume of people getting sick. Dumami yung nagpo-positive and the then, yung testing capacity natin, nag-expand na rin... Pati yung turnaround time sa laboratory, mas mabilis eh kaya mas nakaka-diagnose tayo ngayon ng mga confirmed cases," Francisco said.

But while the number of confirmed cases continue to increase, Francisco noted the mortality rate has not.

“In fact, mas maganda pa ngayon, compared to 2 to 3 months ago nung nag-uumpisa itong COVID... Parang three times pa yung nakaka-recover kesa sa namamatay,” he said.

(It is better now compared to 2 to 3 months ago when COVID started... The recovery is like three times than the deaths.)

Nevertheless, the hospital continues to exert effort to be able to expand further its capacity.

“It’s not as simple as assigning beds to COVID eh, or assigning beds to critical cases. Kasi, 'pag critical, kailangan mas maraming equipment, mas maraming monitors, mas maraming manpower,” he said.

(It’s not as simple as assigning beds to critical cases because a critical case needs a lot of equipment, monitors and manpower.)

He said they would welcome more manpower as COVID patients need a lot of medical care, especially from nurses who regularly check them.

“Ideally, 1:2 pero siguro napipiitan pa silang mag 1:3 or 1:4. But we have no choice we have to go on,” he said of nurses. He said ICU nurses have extended their shift from 8 hours to 12 hours.

(Ideally, it's 1:2 but they are sometimes forced to go 1:3 or 1:4 but we have no choice, we have to go on.)

He explained that there would be 3 cycles of exposure to COVID-19 patients during the 12-hour shift, as each staff is only allowed to wear the personal protective equipment for a maximum of 4 hours.
 
“Pag naka-PPE po ‘yan, walang inuman, walang kainan, walang ihian... Pagka-uminon ‘yan, magpapalit na naman ng PPE yan, plus the risk of getting infected,” he said.

(When they wear their PPE, they are not allowed to drink, eat or pee. When they do drink, they would have to change their PPE to prevent the risk of getting infected.)

So far, the hospital has no problem in terms of PPE supplies, he said.

It also has a little less than 20 available ventilators at the moment. "Hindi naman problema ang ventilators sa ngayon. Pero mabilis hong nagamit kasi a few days ago, we had something like 42 on standby. Ngayon, less than 20 na lang," Francisco said.

(Ventilators is not a problem now. Although, its utilization is fast because, a few days ago, we had something like 42 on standby. Now, it's down to less than 20.)

He encouraged the public to follow health protocols set to prevent the spread of the virus, like wearing a face mask, observing physical distancing, and staying at home.

“We have to be mindful because ito lang po pwede nating gawin habang wala pang vaccine (This is the only thing we can do while there is still no vaccine),” he said.

Many other hospitals this week have already reported full occupancy for COVID-19 beds.

The Philippines has logged 57,545 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of July 14, of which, 35,483 are active.

The active cases are broken down as follows: 91.4% have mild symptoms, 7.7% are asymptomatic, 0.4% have severe symptoms, and 0.5% are in critical condition.

As of July 13, the Department of Health said that 53 percent of ICU beds allotted for COVID-19 are still available, as well as 53.3 percent of isolation beds, and 45.6 percent of ward beds.