Press Release
March 28, 2021

Villanueva recommends to IATF: Draw up 'battle plan' to decongest hospitals

Senator Joel Villanueva is requesting the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to expand its enhanced community quarantine directives for Mega Manila with an "urgent plan" to save hospitals from being "completely overwhelmed" by COVID-19 cases.

"Hospitals are hanging 'No admission for COVID patients' signs. Sa isang pasyenteng naghihingalo, ito na po ang pinakamasakit mong mababasa. Ano kaya po ang magandang solusyon dito?" Villanueva said in a statement on Sunday.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said the "battle plan" 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.

"Mukhang ito po ang missing link doon sa IATF advisory. Sana naman maihabol ito kaagad. If hospitals were ER patients, this is the urgent cure and care they require," Villanueva stated.

Villanueva described hospitals, public or private, as the Ground Zero of the pandemic, and should not be left to deal with the surge of COVID-19 patients on their own.

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

In 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% occupancy.

In fact, health department data as of March 26 also showed that of the total 159 hospitals in NCR, about 40 of them are now in critical state with more than 85% occupancy of their ICU beds, isolation beds, ward beds and the use of ventilators, while 25 are considered "high risk" with 75% to 80% occupancy.

Villanueva expressed that if the ECQ is being called for the benefit of medical frontliners so they won't be overwhelmed, "then why is there no concrete program for their alleviation?"

"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.

"Halimbawa po: Paano po makakatulong ang gobyerno sa pag-restock ng mga hospital pharmacies ng mga COVID-19 medicine tulad ng remdevisir at tocilizumab. Kailangan na po ba nating mag-SOS sa mga kapitbahay natin sa ASEAN? Siguro isa po ito sa mga bagay na dapat isinama ng IATF sa kanilang guidelines sa pagpapatupad ng ECQ," Villanueva said.

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