Villanueva to IATF: decongest hospitals ASAP

Published March 28, 2021, 4:01 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) should exhaust all means to save hospitals from being completely overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases by coming up with a “battle plan” to decongest their wards.

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Sen. Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor and employment committee, said moves to help hospitals in distress was absent in the IATF guidelines for the one-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna, which were announced on Saturday.

“I think that’s the missing link in the latest IATF advisory. I hope they consider this. If hospitals were ER (emergency room) patients, this is the urgent cure and care they require,” Villanueva said on Sunday, March 28.

Villanueva noted that hospitals—both public and private—are the Ground Zero of the pandemic, and should not be left to deal with the surge of COVID-19 patients on their own.

In Metro Manila alone, hospitals have been releasing statements indicating they have reached maximum capacity to deal with COVID-19 cases and could no longer admit more patients.

Even large hospitals such as Chinese General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, Ospital ng Makati, Tondo Medical Center, University of Perpetual Help Dalta Medical Center Inc., Metropolitan Medical Center, the Medical City, St. Luke’s Medical Center and Lung Center of the Philippines, bed capacity is almost neck-deep to 100 percent occupancy.

If the ECQ to be imposed is to provide some window to medical frontliners “then why is there no concrete program for their alleviation?” Villanueva asked.

“While the Holy Week ECQ is a circuit breaker to stop the surge of patients, the problem our hospitals are facing cannot be solved from the demand side alone,” the senator explained.

He also stressed the need for the government to craft a plan on how to restock hospital pharmacies of COVID-19 medicines such as remdevisir and tocilizumab. 

“Do we need to call for an SOS to our ASEAN neighbors? I hope this is one of the things our  IATF should have included in their guidelines for the reimposition of the ECQ,” he stressed.