Gov't targets increase in hospital bed capacity for COVID-19 patients

Published April 23, 2021, 4:28 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

As the country’s cases of infections continued to soar, the government is aiming to increase the number of hospital beds to provide care to patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and National Policy Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr inspect the Department of Health-Quezon Institute Offsite Modular Hospital in Quezon City onApril 6, 2021. (Photo: Alvin Kasiban)

The National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) has been directed to identify target additional beds every week based on the latest resolution of a government’s policy making body on pandemic response.

The latest order of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was made in a bid to enhance health service response capability amid the high level of demand for and use of critical care capacity in hospitals especially those located in Metro Manila.

In IATF Resolution No. 111, the NTF’s Task Group Treat must “identify target additional beds on a weekly basis that will substantially reduce health care and ICU utilization rates, determine and list specific health facilities and infrastructure which shall contribute these additional beds, and operationalize how these beds shall become functional and adequate HRH (human resources for health) and equipment provided.”

The task group must coordinate with One COVID Referral System, the Department of Health’s Health Facility Development Bureau, and concerned agencies on the matter.

The same group has also been authorized to use the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler For Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) projections on target beds and human resources for health (HRH). Such method would help identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) utilization rates, according to the IATF.

The IATF also designated the task force chaired by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to review and implement the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate strategies “for the reduction of health utilization rates and augmentation of HRH needs.”

The national task force has also been directed to enhance the COVID-19 preventive strategies at the barangay level.

It must engage with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority on the development of training and instructional materials of available COVID-19 response frameworks such as the Operation Listo, Dharavi Model, and Local Government Unit Coordinated Operation to Defeat Epidemics (C.O.D.E.). These information materials seeking to combat the pandemic will then be distributed to the communities for immediate implementation.

As of April 21, health authorities reported that 82 percent of the 700 intensive care units in Metro Manila hospitals are utilized. At least 70 percent of the 2,200 ward beds are also occupied while 61 percent of 3,800 isolation beds are in use.

After enduring a two-week strict lockdown, Metro Manila and four nearby provinces are under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in a bid to suppress the rapid surge in coronavirus cases.

The Palace earlier announced plans to convert regular rooms in public hospitals into 200 intensive care units. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said they have started to ask about the inventory of the hospital rooms in government health facilities and hope to complete the survey in a week.