MANILA — The Department of Health is now finding ways to help hospitals in Cebu island as many are reaching “critical level” amid the rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases there.
“Cebu has reached their critical level already since last week. Kaya talagang binabantayan, binibigyan ng suporta (That is why we are monitoring them, giving them support),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a Thursday morning briefing.
Vergeire said the hospitals there have reached more than 80 percent occupancy in terms of isolation beds and intensive care units.
“Napababa ng konti although nasa critical level pa rin,” she said.
(They were able to bring down the numbers but it’s still in the critical level.)
More than a week ago, Vergeire said COVID-19 hospital facilities in Cebu were already in the “warning zone.” She said critical level means having facilities occupied by at least 70 percent.
Cebu province and Cebu City are among the country’s emerging COVID-19 hotspots with many new cases recorded in these areas.
“So we had to enforce the community quarantine that was most strict para their health system makahinga… para mas makapag-prepare sila even when magtuloy-tuloy ang surge ng kaso,” Vergeire said.
(So we had to enforce the community quarantine that was most strict so their health system can adjust…and they can prepare in case the surge of cases continues.)
Cebu City was placed back under the enhanced community quarantine, a strict lockdown level, on June 16 after two weeks of general quarantine because of the continued rise in cases from the area.
It is the only city under such quarantine level, with the rest of the country under looser restrictions.
Based on the COVID-19 tracker website of the DOH, bed occupancy in Cebu province has already reached 75.1 percent as of June 30. Of the 60 facilities in the province, 19 are already in the danger zone or critical level and 9 are in the warning zone.
The numbers are higher for Cebu City, which has a bed occupancy rate of 83.4 percent. The isolation beds specifically are at a 90.95 percent occupancy rate. Of the 16 facilities in the city, 10 are already in critical level.
Vergeire explained that one factor contributing to the problem is the fact that there are just a few tertiary-level hospitals in Cebu.
“Many of them are level 1,” she said, explaining that level 1 hospitals are not allowed to have intensive care units.
She said hospitals will need to get more specialists and equipment to be allowed to have ICUs.
“So talagang 'yung ating Vicente Sotto (Memorial Medical Center), 'yung Chong Hua Hospital at iba pang malalaking ospital sa Cebu ay nandun na sa critical. Marami nang naka-admit, pati mechanical ventilators nila marami na ring gumagamit,” she said.
(So Vicente Sotto, Chong Hua Hospital and other large hospitals in Cebu are at critical level. Many are admitted there, many are using even their mechanical ventilators.)
Vergeire pointed out that Chong Hua Hospital is already at 98 percent occupancy rate.
In a post on its Facebook page, the hospital said that as of June 30, 188 of its 190 COVID-dedicated beds are occupied while 19 of its 20 ICU beds are being used.
Chong Hua Hospital also has 238 personnel in quarantine as it handles more than 200 patients who are already confirmed COVID-19 patients (90), probable (83) and suspect (34).
Vergeire explained that many of the private hospitals are reaching their critical level. She said this is the same with what happened in the National Capital Region at the start of the outbreak.
“Ang talagang pinupuntahan ng mga tao ay private hospitals,” she said.
(People really go to the private hospitals.)
She said that on top of the doctors to the barrios who volunteered, they were also able to get specialist doctors from medical associations to temporarily serve in Cebu as infectious disease consultants.
Vergeire said tents have also been put up to serve as triage areas for the hospitals.
She said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19 have been in Cebu since yesterday to check on the hospitals.
“They have this dialogue with the director of Chong Hua Hospital to see what can be done to help,” she said.
“Wala nang private at public ngayon. Tinutulungan lahat,” she said.
(We treat private and public the same. We are helping everyone.)
Vergeire said the rest of the country is doing better though, with just 37 percent of the ICU beds occupied nationwide. She said isolation bed occupancy is also at 38.5 percent, while only 23.4 percent of mechanical ventilators are being used.
“'Pag tinignan itong indicators na ito sa critical care utilization for the entire Philippines, we can say that we still have reserve… na puwede pang maka-accommodate ng pasyente if and when dumami ang kaso,” she said.
(If we look at the indicators for critical care utilization for the entire Philippines, we can say that we still have reserve… that can still accommodate patients if the cases increase.)