Non-COVID patients ‘collateral damage’ as hospitals get overwhelmed by coronavirus cases surge

March 19, 2021 - 1:21 PM
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COVID beds
A health worker fixes at bed at East Avenue Medical Centers’ Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease in Quezon City on August 17, 2020. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

It’s déjà vu for some healthcare workers.

Reports of non-COVID-19 patients dying due to possible delayed care surfaced as hospitals continue to experience a surge of virus-infected patients in their facilities.

A rheumatology fellow-in-training at the UP Philippine General Hospital shared about losing two patients “possibly because of delayed care” since they were not admitted to the emergency room “due to overwhelming COVID-19 cases.”

“Nakakalungkot na ‘collateral’ damage talaga ang non-COVID cases,” physician Jaff Gonzales said on Twitter on Monday.

“This crisis is even worse than the reported daily tally,” he added.

Fellow physician Jai Cabajar replied to his tweet and said that “it’s like 2020 again.”

A hospital intern quote tweeted Gonzales and shared that “many patients are missing their hemodialysis and chemotherapies due to hospital congestion and fear of getting COVID-19.”

Other Twitter users shared of family members and relatives who have experienced similar instances.

“My grandma died because of delayed care. They didn’t attend to her immediately because they wanted to know if she had COVID or not. She went to the ER (emergency room) to get immediate care but was brought to a COVID isolation facility. Her swab came out negative btw (by the way),” an online user wrote.

“This is real. Last year, my cousin died because of delayed treatment of her breast cancer,” another Twitter user wrote in response to Gonzales’ tweet.

“This. My mom, a cancer patient, who died in September was delayed from getting into the ICU (intensive care unit) coz she had to get swab tested first,” a different Filipino shared.

Hospitals getting overwhelmed 

As of Wednesday, 23 out of 150 hospitals in the National Capital Region were reported to be in critical status in terms of bed capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, 23 others were classified as high-risk status.

Of the hospitals under critical status, five of them have already reached their 100 percent bed occupancy.

These are the Bernardino General Hospital I, F.Y. Manalo Medical Foundation, Inc, FEU- Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Inc, Metro North Medical Center and Hospital and the Rosario Maclang Bautista Hospital.

The Department of Health classifies occupancy levels for COVID-19 beds in hospitals as “critical, high risk, moderate and safe.”

Critical status means that hospitals have already reached more than 85 percent of their bed occupancy for COVID-19 patients.

High-risk means that 70 percent of their COVID-19 beds are occupied.

DOH on Thursday said that Metro Manila has already used up to 64 percent of intensive care unit beds and 54 percent of isolation beds.

“The numbers, they fall under moderate risk. It’s alarming. We can be very comfortable if it were low risk, below 30 percent (utilization rate). But this is already 60 percent so it’s alarming but we need to do something,” Health Undersecretary and treatment czar Leopoldo Vega said.

On Thursday, the DOH reported the second-highest daily tally of COVID-19 cases so far this year with 5,290 new cases.

The highest daily tally recorded this 2021 on March 15 with 5,404 cases.