hospitals in the Philippines

PGH stops accepting non-COVID patients as admissions hit record-high

Sofia Tomacruz

Rappler file photo

Spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario says PGH is looking to convert more wards to treat COVID-19 patients, and, more importantly, realign limited manpower to cope with the rising number of admissions

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) announced on Monday, August 16, it would temporarily stop accepting non-COVID-19 patients and suspend its outpatient services after COVID-19 admissions hit a record-high. 

PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said only “life and limb-threatening” emergencies, like strokes, heart attacks, or trauma patients, will be accepted in the meantime.

The hospital’s Cancer Institute and Department of Opthalmology and Visual Sciences will remain open. 

Del Rosario appealed for the public’s understanding on the matter, saying the decision to stop treating non-COVID-19 patients was done to preserve more hospital resources for mounting cases.

“There are really a lot of patients now who have COVID-19…and there are many more waiting to be admitted,” Del Rosario said in Filipino in an interview on TeleRadyo on Sunday, August 15. 

Del Rosario made the announcement as PGH admissions reached 262 patients – higher than the previous 250-bed capacity of the hospital. As of Monday afternoon, the hospital counted 266 patients admitted for treatment. 

“The climb [in admissions] now is quick…. In the past five days, our patients increased by a hundred. It doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down because PGH also caters to pregnant patients who have COVID, children who have COVID, and adults,” he added. 

By cutting back on accepting non-COVID-19 patients, Del Rosario said the hospital was looking to convert more wards to treat COVID-19 patients, and, more importantly, realign limited manpower to cope with the rising number of admissions. 

“We need to readjust and recalibrate…. The most important thing is we re-distribute the nurses…. If we really want to extend our COVID services, we need to close the non-COVID,” he said. 

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With adjustments made to its operations, the PGH is looking at increasing its COVID-19 bed capacity to about 300, Del Rosario said.

He said PGH’s intensive care units (ICU) were also currently full, with all 40 beds filled. Its ICU for kids was also filling up with 8 out of 12 beds filled as of Sunday. 

PGH has seen more COVID-19 cases among children now, the youngest just days old, with the oldest about 15 years old. He added that majority of cases, including those severe, recovered, though treatment may take a longer time.

PGH stops accepting non-COVID patients as admissions hit record-high

Del Rosario said for patients currently admitted who did not have COVID-19, the hospital would finish treatment and discharge them when possible. Transfers to other hospitals were also being coordinated, though it was more difficult to do so now due to limited space, he added. 

This is not the first time PGH had to limit its operations to respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases. When the Philippines saw its first surge in July to August 2020, the hospital also temporarily stopped accepting non-COVID cases. 

Experts studying the pandemic say cases are expected to continue increasing this week. Metro Manila is currently under an enhanced community quarantine – the strictest quarantine level – until August 20. ICU capacity in the region is at “high risk” with 71% of beds occupied.  – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.