MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Health on Saturday said it will fast-track the delivery and set up of modular tents for hospitals across Metro Manila with the help of the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
The announcement comes amid the continued and unprecedented spike in cases in Metro Manila and nearby areas and cries for help from several hospitals who say their capacities are overwhelmed.
DOH said the following hospitals have requested modular tents as of April 3:
- Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRRMMC) at the Quezon Institute (QI)
- Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium (Tala)
- Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center
- National Center for Mental Health
- Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP)
- National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI)
- San Lazaro Hospital
The tents requested by JRRMC for its offsite modular hospital, the Quezon Institute, as well as San Lazaro are scheduled for delivery within the day, according to health authorities.
“To further manage healthcare utilization in NCR, the DOH, with the assistance of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), has facilitated the creation of extensions for level 3 hospitals,” DOH said.
Such extensions include “the 44-bed modular hospital at Tala which begun its operations last week, 44-bed modular hospital at LCP which started operating last January, and the 110-bed capacity off-site modular extension of JRRMC at QI expected to open on April 8, among others.”
This announcement comes hours after six senators urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to swiftly amend its policy on hospital tent coverage following reports that patients were paying P1,000 per hour because the state-run agency would not cover their temporary stay.
PhilHealth on Friday night said it is currently reviewing its policies and will launch a probe into allegations of overcharging.
DOH ‘intensifying efforts’ to augment healthcare workers in NCR
DOH also said that 42 healthcare workers (HCWs) are currently scheduled to be deployed to the National Capital Region within the week as part of what it called an intensified effort to augment their manpower in the outbreak’s epicenter.
“[M]ore volunteers from Visayas and Mindanao are expected to be deployed over the next weeks,” the department said.
“Furthermore, AFP and PNP Medical Reserve Forces have been tapped to man reactivated Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities where mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases are transferred.”
The agency also said that the national government is currently finalizing talks with hotels to cater to HCWs and employees who are in need of quarantine and isolation facilities. Health authorities expect that three hotels will be utilized within the week.
“Personal Protective Equipment for HCWs are also continuously being distributed across the country, and vaccination of HCWs is being expedited to protect medical frontliners,” DOH said, adding that some 10,007 HCWs have already received their first dose.
Hours earlier, the Philippine Orthopedic Center urged the public for face mask donations as it announced that 117 of its staff tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the hospital to halt some of its services.
To avoid overcrowding at hospitals, the department urged the public to “first coordinate with their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) before going to hospitals…so they may be assessed and referred to the appropriate facility for the appropriate level of care.”
“The public is also called on to utilize the teleconsultation services of their respective Local Government Units (LGUs) or use the FREE teleconsultation services of DOH through its partners for non-urgent medical needs to avoid overcrowding in hospitals and ensure that all critical patient needs are attended to.”
— Bella Perez-Rubio
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