In response to the call of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, the Mariveles District Hospital (MDH), a Level 1 hospital, has pulled out all the stops to be of help in addressing the possible influx of COVID-19 patients in Central Luzon.
MDH Chief Dr. Hector Santos said they have so far allocated the entire third floor of the building and turned it into an isolation facility with 50-bed capacity and four dedicated rooms in case some patients will need stricter isolation measures since MDH is now a DOH referral hospital for mild to moderate Patients Under Investigation (PUI). MDH is currently providing care and treatment to five PUIs brought in last night.
Dr. Santos said, “Gov. Albert Garcia has already issued an office memo to augment our current manpower. We are also awaiting reinforcements from private doctors who have already signified their willingness to be frontliners for MDH. So far, there is only one doctor on duty per day. We are also on the lookout for more hospital staff and medical personnel. We are hopeful.”
The doctor also said that they have devised a strict protocol of admittance inside the hospital to ensure safety and protection for both patients and hospital staff and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
“As per the Infection Control Committee’s guidelines, we have set up a Triage manned by health workers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) who will assess the patients coming in depending on the severity of their cases. Those showing mild symptoms will be advised to do home quarantine. Those with moderate symptoms will be admitted by making them go through the sterilization booth before they are brought to the isolation facility where they will stay for at least 14 days at least, since that is how long the observation period normally lasts.
“Also, as per DOH guidelines, we have installed plastic curtains around each bed as an added precaution to separate one patient from the other. This way we can prevent possible cross contamination,” Dr. Santos said. The installation of CCTV at the isolation ward will also help in the monitoring of patients, he added.
Regarding treatment of non-COVID-19 related cases, Dr. Santos added that the general guideline is to bring emergency cases to Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) but since the proximity of MDH and BGHMC is a consideration, the former has set up a dedicated space at the Emergency Room of MDH specifically for minor emergency cases like childbirth, treatment of fractures, and the like.
He said, “as a referral hospital, we are in the process of converting the entire hospital into an isolation ward that is why we cannot admit patients for confinement here anymore. We take directives directly from DOH.”
Dr. Santos also said that the local government of Mariveles, through Mayor Jocelyn Castaneda, has extended its support to MDH by providing a dormitory for the hospital workers and medical staff so they don’t have to travel far going home. He said, “many of us have already decided not to go home to our respective families. Not only to protect our families but also to be more available for the patients.”
The doctor also revealed the strict implementation of safety protocol from among the ranks of the health workers. “We have adequate supply of PPEs, masks and gloves for now. We go through the misting booth whenever we go in and out of the hospital. And we have strict instructions to all hospital staff that they need to take off the outside clothes and put on hospital garb coming in. Before they leave, they need to take a bath here, put their soiled clothes in a plastic bag for washing.”
On top of that, Dr. Santos also said they have provided their workers with vitamins to help keep their bodies strong. “The health and safety of our workers and frontliners is a priority for us here because if we get sick, we won’t be able to do our jobs to help others get the treatment they need.”
At the same time, Dr. Santos thanked the provincial government of Bataan, as well as the municipality of Mariveles for all the support that they are extending to MDH to make sure that they have what they need to treat the patients brought to them.
Meanwhile, PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales said that The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will shoulder the hospital expenses of all coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients in the country as the government grapples to contain the spread of the disease.
Gov. Garcia, for his part, renewed his appeal to the public to obey the authorities and stay home. “We need to deprive this virus of hosts so it will die a natural death. If you go out, there is a chance that you will be infected by 1 of 3 people, which you can also pass on to 1-3 people if you get infected. The cycle will be endless. So please stay home.”
He also called on the public to stop harassment and discrimination of health workers. “What our health workers and frontliners are doing is a huge sacrifice. They do it at the expense of risking their lives. We need to support them because if they stop going to work, then no one will be left to help the sick. Let’s look out for each other in this time of the pandemic,” the governor ended. | SHIRLEY PIZARRO