As coronavirus rages, Metro Manila private hospitals face shortage of staff, medical supplies

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Frontline health personnel from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute triage attend to patients coming into the hospital for treatment. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – As Luzon entered its 3rd week of the enhanced community quarantine, private hospitals in Metro Manila are facing a shortage of health workers and medical supplies to battle the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a group said Friday.

Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP), appealed for government help as the crisis is stretching the private health care system to its limits.

"Dito sa Metro Manila, talagang kulang po tayo," he told radio DZMM.

(Here in Metro Manila, we are definitely lacking [manpower].)

"Kailangan na po talaga na humingi ng tulong kasi 'yong naka-handle ng COVID iqu-quarantine ng 14 days, nababawasan na po ang ating mga nurse at doctors," Jimenez added.

(It's time to ask for help because those handling COVID-19 cases have to be quarantined for 14 days, reducing our nurses and doctors.)
The PHAP, which has over 600 members throughout the country, said private hospitals are also running low on medical supplies and equipment.

Among the scarce supplies are mechanical breathing devices ventilators, which are used for patients with severe cases of the novel coronavirus, Jimenez said.

For one COVID-19 patient, health workers have to use at least 100 personal protective equipment (PPEs) for a day or two, he added.

Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan City in Hubei province, China, the Philippines has been facing a shortage of medical practitioners, Jimenez said.

"Even before the COVID-19, we have been lacking 23,000 nurses all over the Philippines. Some 3,500 pharmacists and 3,000 med techs," he added.

As the virus continues to spread in the country, which has so far infected 3,018 people, dealing with an influx of coronavirus patients is straining hospital systems, Jimenez said.

The current doctor-to-patient ratio stands at 1 to 40,000, far from the ideal 1 to 10,000 as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), he added.

During the interview, Jimenez assured the public that private hospitals would still accept patients having other medical conditions.

He also urged patients possibly carrying the novel coronavirus strain to tell the truth.

"Huwag silang magsinungaling. Maraming doctor ang namatay dahil hindi nagsabi ng tama ang ilang pasyente," Jimenez said.

(Don't lie. Many doctors died because some patients didn't tell the truth.)

The Philippine Medical Association earlier said some 12 Filipino doctors had died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

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