BACOLOD CITY – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who was tasked by President Duterte to help in bringing down the incidence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu City, will be arriving here on Thursday with two other Cabinet officials to assess the city’s own response to the coronavirus crisis.
Cimatu will be joined by the national government’s Chief Implementer of its COVID-19 response Carlito Galvez, and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino.
This was after President Duterte responded to the urgent appeal for help issued by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia on Tuesday for the Department of Health to send to his city an augmentation team of 150 nurses, 20 doctors, and 30 medical technologists as an "emergency stop-gap measure" before the city's health care system bogs down for lack of medical personnel in hospitals.
Leonardia made an appeal to the President because he was alarmed that, last August 23, Bacolod hospitals were already refusing admission to new COVID-19 patients, saying they have already reached full capacity, or that there were no more doctors and nurses to care for new patients.
He even stated in his appeal that patients have already died in their homes for failing to avail of emergency hospital services, stressing that these patients could have been given help had there been enough medical personnel in these hospitals.
The mayor said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go informed him that the three Cabinet officials will determine what immediate assistance the national government could give to the city to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
The group visited Iloilo City on Wednesday before proceeding to Bacolod, where they will hold separate meetings with officials of the city and those of the province.
Cimatu will also be bringing with him retired Gen. Mel Feliciano, his deputy in the Cebu mission.
Leonardia said Galvez has already promised to deploy here nurses and doctors from Region 7.
He will also arrange with DOH Region 6 to bring in more medical personnel to help fill the gap in the city’s need for more doctors and nurses, the mayor added.
Galvez also told the local chief executive that he will also put in place, through DOH-6, arrangements with certain Bacolod hotels to serve as “bend-down” facilities to take in recovering COVID patients who will be discharged earlier from hospitals, so that hospital beds can be freed to admit new critically-ill COVID patients.
Galvez also assured Leonardia that he will “deploy five High-Flow Nasal Cannula” at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital here, and facilitate that the said hospital will have stocks of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug now used for seriously-ill COVID patients.
He said he will come to Bacolod next week.
Also, Leonardia said that Gen. Robert Ancan, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas Command Center in Cebu, in a follow-up call promised to field, as soon as possible, a medical team composed of army doctors, nurses, and support health workers to augment the dwindling number of medical health workers here who are stricken with COVID-19 themselves or have resigned.
Ancan also assured the mayor of further medical equipment support after an evaluation.
For his part, Dino promised the mayor that the national government “will go all the way” and give “full support” to help Bacolod City.