Duque: Hospitals refusing suspected coronavirus patients may face sanctions

Mara Cepeda
Duque: Hospitals refusing suspected coronavirus patients may face sanctions
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III says erring hospitals may lose their license or PhilHealth accreditation

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said any hospital that will refuse to admit suspected cases of COVID-19 without valid reasons may face sanctions. 

Duque said in a chance interview on Wednesday, March 11, that hospitals are “not allowed” to close their doors on patients suspected to have COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus. (WATCH: House briefing on coronavirus status)

“Ang protocol diyan eh (The protocol there is that they are) not allowed to refuse patients. Unless the reasons are cogent, the reasons are clear, we cannot allow it. So we will have to look into this report,” Duque said.

Asked what possible sanctions the government may impose, Duque said the hospitals may be stripped of their license and accreditation.

“I’m sure there are [sanctions]. So we can probably impose some of the sanctions [like removing their] accreditation by PhilHealth [or] the licensing by the Health Facility [and] Services Regulatory Bureau,” Duque said.  

Duque was sought for comment on reports that The Medical City (TMC) in Pasig would temporarily stop admitting patients under investigation (PUI) fr COVID-19 since the hospital was supposedly at full capacity already with 3 PUIs already under its care. 

Duque said he would sending the Deparment of Health regional director to verify this information with TMC, but Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto already said the private hospital “is not refusing patients.”

With the total confirmed cases in the Philippines at 33 so far, the health department is now “transitioning” its quarantine strategy, with mild cases being asked to undergo home quarantine so that hospitals will not be packed with patients. Those with severe symptoms will be prioritized. 

Due to limited supplies, DOH will also only test patients already showing respiratory symptoms and who have either traveled to countries with recorded cases of the coronavirus or were exposed to those who already have COVID-19. (READ: Duque: ‘Problems’ in reporting system delayed disclosure of coronavirus cases)

“Kung may travel history ka, kung mild, maghome quarantine ka muna. Because ‘yon na nga, we might be reaching the surge capacity. Mahirap naman. Because remember, other hospitals have other patients,” Duque said. (READ: DOH says still safe to visit hospitals if feeling unwell) 

(If you have a travel history but you are a mild case, do home quarantine first. Because we might be reaching the surge capacity. That’s going to be hard. Because remember, other hospitals have other patients.)

DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire previously assured the public that isolation hospitals across the country have enough bed capacities for COVID-19 patients. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.