Multiple monitors show the availability of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, allowing health officials to refer new cases. This is the Philippines' new pandemic command center, one of many initiatives to stop fast-rising infections that threaten to overwhelm the system.
The One Health Command Center or OHCC aims for a "seamless integration of hospital care systems" in Metro Manila,” Health Sec. Francisco Duque said. It will serve as the protype for the rest of the country.
“Look at the multi-monitoring screens around us. Huge screens to monitor the occupancy of the various hospitals not just in Metro Manila, this is the model, this will soon be followed by hospitals in the different regions,” Duque said.
The DOH on Thursday launched the OHCC which will service hospitals in the National Capital Region. The Metro Manila Development Authority, Bases and Conversion Development Authority will help the health department run the center.
The OHCC will monitor the number of ward beds, isolation beds, and ICU beds in different hospitals to keep track of capacity. It will also act as a patient referral system so overwhelmed hospitals can redirect patients to other facilities. This way, hospitals nearing maximum capacity can be decongested quickly, Duque said.
Duque said mild or asymptomatic patients should be transferred to isolation or quarantine facilities, as they could worsen if placed near severe cases. Hospitals should allocate their beds for moderate and severe cases who need advanced care and equipment. The OHCC will also aid in the transfer of mild or symptomatic cases to isolation facilities.
So how does the command center operate?
Four groups will work together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, namely; the OHCC, Oplan Kalinga, accompanied by aggressive community testing and tracing, said Dr. Bernadette Velasco during the OHCC launch.
The OHCC will cover both public and private health institutions. Offsite call centers and third parties will handle the large volume of calls and referrals, while in-house workers will be in charge of answering and redirecting referrals.
There are three ways to access the OHCC. Patients may download the Pure Force Citizen app, which is available on Android or iOS. They could also call the following hotlines: 0919077333, 0157777777, and 88650500. A QR code is also available for quick scanning.
OHCC coordinators will then ask questions to facilitate quicker response or transfer. The MMDA will then be notified if there is a new case or event that needs to be handled. Various agencies and coordinators are part of the database, and it comes with a dashboard that can help dispatchers figure out where to bring the patient for appropriate care.
Upon identifying a facility that can accommodate the patient, the coordinator will then call the hospital or quarantine facility. Once the request is accepted, the caller will be informed of the next steps. Agents will also follow protocols for emergencies and quick-response situations.
“The challenge here is to look for an available bed, especially given the situation,” Velasco said.
Velasco said that updating the dashboard is crucial in ensuring the command center functions appropriately and efficiently. Treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said hospitals must frequently send bed capacity figures so the OHCC dashboard can stay up to date.