Claire dela Fuente slept for two nights in a tent before she was accommodated at a different hospital. There, the Philippines' jukebox queen died, underscoring how the surge in COVID-19 cases that prompted a fresh lockdown is also pushing treatment centers to capacity.
The fear has come true, hospitals are "overwhelmed and overrun" Philippine Hospital Association President Dr. Jaime Almora told GMA News' "Unang Balita" newscast. "Hindi tayo natatalo, natalo na," he said.
Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite are under ECQ, the strictest lockdown, until April 4 and the DOH is recommending an extension of at least until April 18 to arrest the surge. The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 will meet on Saturday to decide on a whether or not to prolong the ECQ.
At the first hospital where Dela Fuente, 63, sought treatment, she was kept in a "waiting ward, a makeshift tent" because there wasn't enough space inside the main building. After two nights, relatives found a hospital bed for her at a different facility, her son, Gigo de Guzman, told ANC's Headstart.
"Fortunately, on the last day, the day before her last, she was transferred. They were able to find her a room in the ward there," de Guzman said.
COVID SURGE EXPLAINED:
Turning patients away
Hospitals have turned away COVID-positive patients due to a lack of resources. Many hospitals have the bed capacity but are short on manpower,
"Ibig sabihin kung wala silang capability, not necessarily wala silang capacity. Kung beds ang pag-uusapan, merong beds. Ang wala ay ang mag-aasikaso sa pasyente," he said.
Apart from the lack of manpower those on duty are overworked with 16-hour shifts, he said.
A confluence of events led to the diminishing number of nurses. Almora cited the phase-out of non-performing nursing schools, no nursing graduates for a year due to K-12, and nurses transferring from private hospitals to government institutions offering double the pay.
Almora called on the government to provide reinforcement to private hospitals with nurses.
"Kumbaga sa giyera, nasa firing line sila at wala nang reinforcement. Nanawagan kami sa ahensiya ng gobyerno na nag-employ ng maraming nurse to provide reinforcement," he said.
Mild cases of COVID-19 were encouraged to self-isolate at home and seek the help of medical professionals through teleconsults.
"Tumawag na lang sa mga doktor, huwag nang pumunta sa ospital," he said.