Not enough healthcare workers to manage additional COVID beds in NCR — OCTA expert

Published April 23, 2021, 3:27 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

More than available beds for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients, the lack of nurses to man hospitals is one of the main reasons why hospitals in Metro Manila are getting overwhelmed, molecular biologist-priest Nicanor Austriaco said on Friday, April 23.

Austriaco, a research fellow of OCTA, said thousands of nurses are needed to manage a total of 9,745 COVID beds designated by the Department of Health (DOH) in Metro Manila, as of April 19, 2021.

As of December 2020, there are about 16,000 nurses in the National Capital Region.

The lack of nurses to man hospitals is one of the main reasons why hospitals in Metro Manila are getting overwhelmed

“One of the reasons why our hospitals appear to be so overwhelmed in spite of the extra number of beds that are recorded every single day in the DOH data is because we are actually facing a log jam, a limit. The limiting factor is actually not beds but nurses,” Austriaco said during a webicon organized by OCTA and Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

“The capacity that we are able to deal with in the city will depend upon the ratio of beds to nurses that are assigned,” he explained.

For standard care without the surge, he pointed out that one nurse is needed per four COVID ward patients, one nurse per two COVID patients in ICU, one to eight for non-COVID ward patients, and one to two non-COVID ICU patients.

“With 9,745 COVID beds and 16,000 nurses, in every single scenario…there was always more beds available than nurses,” Austriaco said.

“In fact, in the middle surge capacity, we have 7,616 staff beds with 2,000 or more so of beds empty because we have reached capacity. We believe that the gap that we’re seeing between the threshold of beds that are available, and the number of beds that are actually used, and the number of cases that are actually admitted to our hospitals is actually, based on our modeling, a result of a significant shortage of nurses to staff these beds,” he pointed out.

“If we keep increasing the number of COVID beds in the NCR, will we have enough nurses to ensure that our sick kababayans will receive the care that they should receive?” he asked.