NCMH chief gags exec over hospital's coronavirus response
MANILA, Philippines – After a social media maelstrom, National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) chief Roland Cortez on Wednesday, April 8, ordered one of the officials to stop issuing statements regarding the hospital's coronavirus response.
"This is to inform you that you are not the spokesperson of NCMH, you are not even a member of the expanded management committee of the hospital," Cortez told NCMH chief administrative officer Clarita Avila in a statement posted on Facebook.
The statement comes after Avila aired in a news report her concerns regarding the NCMH's lacking response to the coronavirus pandemic.
An unsigned open letter that detailed the same concerns also made the rounds on social media.
Cortez on Wednesday said Avila was not authorized to issue statements on behalf of the hospital.
"You are hereby ordered to refrain from issuing statements about COVID-19 issues because this function is under DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire," Cortez added.
In a GMA News report on Wednesday, Avila was quoted as saying that the Mandaluyong-based mental facility has 34 confirmed coronavirus cases, 28 of whom are health workers.
Avila also disclosed that NCMH has 297 patients under investigation and 181 persons under monitoring as of April 5.
Avila said in the report that some NCMH workers do not report for work anymore due to the hospital's lack of personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
The same problems were stated in an open letter addressed to NCMH officials which circulated this week on social media.
He also cited a memorandum from the Department of Health (DOH), stating that "all public and private hospitals are prohibited to report/release information related to any suspected COVID-19 cases."
The NCMH is a special research training center and hospital under the DOH.
According to Cortez, the DOH should report the situation and condition first "to ensure harmonized reporting, prevent circulation of unverified information, and avoid confusion among the public."
In the United States, there have been reports of hospitals threatening to fire staff members who speak out about the lack of protective gear at work.
The DOH on Wednesday reported that a total of 252 health workers in the Philippines have contracted the coronavirus. This number includes 152 doctors and 63 nurses.
In a press briefing, Beverly Ho, special assistant to DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, also confirmed the death of "12 health workers due to COVID-19," but did not give details.
This was the first time the health department released data on health workers who contracted the virus.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has 3,870 coronavirus cases, with 182 deaths and 96 recoveries. Globally, the new virus has infected more than 1.4 million people, with over 82,000 deaths and at least 275,500 recoveries. – Rappler.com