Cagayan De Oro City

Dozens wait in ERs, tents to be admitted to Cagayan de Oro hospitals

Herbie Gomez
Dozens wait in ERs, tents to be admitted to Cagayan de Oro hospitals

LOCAL CHIEF. Mayor Oscar Moreno gestures as he explains the COVID-19 situation in Cagayan de Oro.

Cagayan de Oro City Information Office

City hall's isolation facilities are also full, forcing the local government to allow, for the first time since 2020, those who tested positive for COVID-19 to opt for home quarantine

Dozens continue to wait in emergency rooms and tents outside Cagayan de Oro’s hospitals that have run out of rooms for COVID-19 patients.

At the city government-owned JR Borja Memorial General Hospital alone, at least 53 people waited outside on Monday, May 24. 

Dr. Lorraine Nery, city health officer, said 25 of the ailing people were infected while 28 others were waiting for their test results. The hospital only has 40 beds for COVID-19 patients, not even enough for people in the waiting list outside, Nery said.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said COVID-19 inoculations at the city hall-run hospital had to be stopped because of the space problem.

The state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), Region 10’s primary referral hospital for COVID-19 cases, had some 30 people waiting in its emergency facility in a single day over a week ago. 

The hospital turned an additional floor of a new building into a COVID-19 facility, and added beds. But all it did was shorten the NMMC’s waiting list – there were still people in the ER waiting to be admitted on Tuesday morning, May 25, a frontline health worker told Rappler.

City hall’s isolation facilities for the infected were also full, forcing the local government to allow, for the first time since 2020, those who tested positive for COVID-19 to opt for home quarantine. 

Until this month, Mayor Moreno did not allow anyone in city hall’s quarantine facilities to go home until they tested negative.

But the surge in COVID-19 cases in the city was overwhelming that Moreno appealed to “overstaying” patients to go home even if they have yet to test negative for COVID-19. He said this would allow the newly infected to take their place in the facilities.

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“We are not driving them away. I just hope they understand that there are people who need to be quarantined,” Moreno said.

He estimated that there were close to 500 newly infected people in the city as of Monday, and as many as 150 in the waiting lists of public and private hospitals.

City epidemiologist Dr. Teodulfo Joselito Retuya said those who have stayed in the facilities for 10 to 14 days were no longer seen as contagious, and could continue their quarantine at home.

“Maybe what we can do is have them tested again later,” Moreno said.

Stricter measures

Moreno banned on Monday afternoon birthday parties and similar gatherings in hotels, restaurants, and other commercial establishments in the city in an effort to stop the further rise of COVID-19 cases.

He threatened to cancel the business permits of erring establishments as he invoked Section 16 of the Local Government Code that mandates local officials to resort to drastic measures to protect public health.

Moreno signed Executive Order No. 46-2021 days after local health officials said parties, especially birthday celebrations, factored in the sharp increase in the city’s COVID-19 cases.

The “continuing rise of COVID-19 infections is posing clear threats to the critical care utilization rate pertaining to the hospital system in Cagayan de Oro City,” read part of the executive order.

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Moreno said the ban will be temporary, and applies to birthday, organization and foam parties, family reunions, and similar gatherings in commercial establishments, including the city’s beach resorts, pools and other recreational areas.

He said any event that results in “undue crowding,” indoor or outdoors, in commercial eatablishments is temporarily prohibited in Cagayan de Oro.

Cagayan de Oro registered 1,006 active COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, May 23, the highest so far since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The city also saw 147 new cases that day. – Rappler.com