BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Negros Occidental’s biggest COVID-19 referral center has 500 new medical workers, including 180 nurses, to deal with this city’s new surge in infections, but private hospitals are struggling with the loss of half their workforce.
Dr. Julius Drilon, medical center chief of Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH), a Department of Health-run hospital, said they have more than 100 beds available and can accommodate at least 120 COVID-19 patients.
There are 30 patients currently in CLMMRH, with 25 admitted in January and five in December 2021.
Drilon told Rappler on Wednesday, January 12 – when the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) placed Bacolod on Alert Level 3 from January 14 to 31 – that the current growth rate in COVID-19 cases will continue.
He urged city and provincial officials to coordinate their pandemic management strategies.
“These numbers will continue to rise. We don’t know yet when it’s going to peak,” said Drilon. He said the hospital’s statisticians and analysts are also monitoring the national trend, which often affects local cases.
On January 11, the city had a 330% two-week growth rate in cases, from only 38% early this month, and an “alarming” average daily attack rate of 2.99 per 100,000 of the population, Drilon said.
Data from the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) Negros Occidental chapter as of 7 pm on January 12 showed 67 confirmed COVID-19 cases in various hospitals. There are 49 suspected cases awaiting RT-PCR test results.
PCP Negros Occidental president Dr. Ronel Sario told Rappler on January 12 that private hospitals in the city and the province anticipated the surge in the last quarter of 2021, when the government eased travel rules and loosened curbs on internal mobility.
Private hospitals have enough beds but are burdened by lean medical staff, as 50% of their workforce, mostly nurses, have left their jobs, Sario said.
Unvaccinated at high risk
Drilon and Sario urged the public to comply with the minimum health protocols and get their COVID-19 vaccine shots.
The CLMMRH’s current 30 cases are all unvaccinated, Drilon said.
CLMMRH recorded the highest number of COVID-19 admissions in September and October last year.
“In September, 215 COVID-19 patients were admitted to the hospital, and 100 of them died. All unvaccinated,” Drilon said.
Sario said that 122 or 94.6% of 129 COVID-19 deaths from November 1 to January 12 in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, were unvaccinated.
Drilon admitted emotional toll from the two-year pandemic has “crept into our system” but said the hospital management is doing intervention to boost the morale of health workers.
He said COVID-19 hit 23 of CLMMRH’s medical workers in January, seven of them high-risk patients, with community transmission as the main cause.
The current standard protocol of their hospital staff is a 14-day straight work rotation followed by five-day rest, then they will be tested for the virus, Drilon said. – Rappler.com