DOH coordinating with hospitals on morgue capacity

Published April 12, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Sunday (April 12) it is now setting up plans to help medical facilities in the event that they exceed their morgue’s capacity amid the rising COVID-19 death toll.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire (PNA)
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire (PNA/MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are now coordinating with hospitals, other government agencies, and local government units regarding such scenarios.

“Naghahanda po ang ibang mga ahensya ng iba pang pasilidad tulad ng mobile freezers upang tulungan ang ating mga hospital sakaling lumagpas sila sa kanilang kapasidad,” Vergeire said in a press briefing.

(Other agencies are preparing facilities such as mobile freezers to assist our hospitals in case they exceed their capacity.)

In particular, the DOH said it has sought the assistance of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the management of bodies.

“Ang DILG ang siyang in-charge sa management of the dead. Mula sa aming meeting kaninang umaga…mag-aasign po ang DILG ng focal person para magco-coordinate ng mga concern tungkol sa pangangasiwa, cremation, o hindi kaya pagsasaayos ng mga labi ng ating mga pumanaw,” Vergeire said.

(The DILG is in charge of the management of the dead. From our meeting this morning, they will assign a focal person to coordinate concerns regarding the management, cremation, or other concerns with regard to human remains.)

The Philippines on Sunday recorded 50 new COVID-19-related deaths, the highest single-day death toll reported so far. This brings the total number of deaths to 297.

Vergeire said the conduct of mass burial is not yet in the picture. “Hindi pa po pinag-uusapan sa ngayon ang mass burial dahil hindi pa po ito kailangan.”

(We are not discussing mass burial right now because it is not yet necessary.)

The Health official said as of now, the country’s hospitals still have the capacity to handle cadavers whether COVID-19  or non-COVID-19 cases.

“Sa kasalukuyan ang ating mga hospital ay may kapasidad upang i-store ang ating mga cadavers sa kanilang mga morgue habang inaayos ng kanilang mga kapamilya ang proseso ng pagpapalibing o cremation,” Vergeire said.

(At present, our hospitals still have the capacity to store cadavers in their respective morgues while the families of the deceased are processing their burial or cremation.]

Investigation at the East Avenue Medical Center

The DOH said it inspected the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) in Quezon City amid reports of cadavers piling up in the hospital morgue.

“Ang East Avenue Medical Center ay nag-report na sila ay nakakuha na ng mobile freezer para sa mga unclaimed bodies, may COVID man o wala. Ito ay malaking tulong para madagdagan ang limitadong capacity ng kanilang mortuary,” Vergeire said.

(East Avenue Medical Center reported that they have obtained a mobile freezer for unclaimed bodies, with or without COVID. This is a great help to increase the limited capacity of their mortuary.)

Moreover, additional body bags were received by EAMC Hospital Director Dr. Alfonso Nuñez on Sunday morning, the DOH said in a separate statement.

“The Quezon City Council was tasked to manage any unclaimed bodies and shoulder the cost of cremation if funding from next of kin is unavailable,” it added.

No omission of information

Vergeire also said the Health department is now conducting an investigation regarding reports  that a hospital in Metro Manila received an order to stop counting COVID-19 related deaths.

“Kasalukuyang pinapaimbestigahan. Kailan at saan nagsimula… Seryosong akusasyon ito at prayoridad ng pamahalaan na walang omission of information na magaganap.” she said.

(It is currently being investigated. When and where it began… This is a serious accusation and the government’s priority is that no omission of information will occur.)

“Layunin namin na maibahagi ang kumpleto, tama, at verified na impormasyon. Importante ito sa amin kasi kailangan ito sa pag-gawa ng gabay ng mga ahensya ng mga patakaran,” she added.

(We aim to share complete, accurate, and verified information. This is important to us as it is necessary for government agencies when crafting policies.)

The DOH urged the heads of hospitals to maintain open lines of communication.

“Regularly and clearly inform their teams on actions taken to address operational issues, to proactively seek concerns and grievances from their staff that they may be immediately addressed, and to immediately report such concerns through the appropriate channels,” the DOH said.

It also “appeals to medical center chiefs, health care workers, to immediately report concerns directly to the DOH.”

The DOH also urged the public to be “more circumspect in posting information that unduly causes panic.”