Accountability calls mount as hospitals fill up with new COVID patients

As hospitals announce an overflow of coronavirus patients, calls for accountability are again mounting for the Rodrigo Duterte government’s “ineffective” response to the pandemic.

On Friday, the Quezon City (QC) government announced its general hospital is set to convert its chapel as a COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) ward in response to the increasing demand for beds for severe medical cases.

The chapel inside the QC General Hospital and Medical Center will be utilized as a 21-bed COVID-19 ICU to allow admission of more severe Covid-19 cases, the local government unit said.

“Our COVID-19 ward and ICU has already reached its full capacity. With this extension facility, we hope to admit more COVID-19 patients who are in need of urgent and extensive treatment,” QCGHMC Director Dr. Josephine Sabando said.

QC’s two other city-run hospitals, the Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital and the Novaliches District Hospital, are at 100% and 125% occupancy rates as of August 12, respectively.

The city’s 11 COVID-19 community caring facilities are currently at 95.08% occupancy rate with 1,468 patients, the local government reported.

Meanwhile, the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), one of the country’s leading COVID-19 treatment hospitals, announced it was already near full capacity as the new strict lockdowns began last August 6.

“Presently, we are nearing our maximum capacity when it comes to patient occupancy rate. As of this morning, our occupancy rate for COVID-related beds or admissions is around 90 percent already and for the critical units, around 90 percent,” LCP emergency room and Covid-19 Triage Task Force head Dr. Randy Castillo said in a media interview.

Department of Health spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire announced last Monday that 236 hospitals in the country have reached “critical levels” of at least 85% occupancy rate because of the ongoing  rise in COVID-19 cases brought about by the more contagious Delta variant.

Twenty-five hospitals in the National Capital Region, epicenter of the current outbreak, are nearing full capacity, Vergeire added.

On Friday, the government reported 13,177 new COVID-19 cases, the second single-day high since April of this year.

It also reported 299 new deaths and a positivity rate of 23.6% among those newly tested for the virus.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said the positivity rate of nearly one in every four tested is alarming, given that only about 57,000 tests were administered.

“[The government’s] response now is no different from the 2nd ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) — impose a lockdown and hope transmission slows down,” he said.

“Testing remains very low. Government continues to ignore the call for #MassTestingNow….It has gotten worse,” he said in an earlier tweet, noting that the positivity rate was even worse last Thursday, August 13.

“#DutertePalpak,” Reyes said. (Useless Duterte.)

Community medicine expert Dr. Gene Nisperos agreed with Reyes, adding DOH secretary Francisco Duque should have been fired already.

“His (Duque’s) track record is one of DISMAL FAILURE since Day 1 of this pandemic. We remember, that’s why we want him out. Du30 (Duterte) does not care for human life, that’s why he keeps Duque. If Du30 cared one bit, he would have kicked Duque out long ago,” Nisperos said in a Twitter reaction to Duque’s claims of achievements since becoming health secretary.

“Magsama silang dalawang hangal,” Nisperos said. (Those two fools deserve each other.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)