DOH fast-tracking release of new ambulances to 5 RHUs, hospital

The escalating coronavirus threat has forced the Department of Health’s Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) in Bicol to fast-track the release of new medical ambulances to five (5) Rural Health Units (RHUs) and a district hospital in Catanduanes.

The ambulances were supposed to be issued by the DOH regional office on or before June 2020, according to Dr. Elva Joson of Virac RHU and Dr. Robert John Aquino of Viga RHU in response to a query from the Tribune.

According to DOH-CHD Regional Director Dr. Ernie Vera, six ambulances are destined for Catanduanes, along with 26 for Camarines Sur, 18 for Albay, eight for Sorsogon, three for Camarines Norte, and five sea ambulances for Masbate. One of the 18 ambulances for Albay was a sea ambulance deployed in the island town of Rapu-Rapu.

Fourteen units of land ambulances were turned over the other week by DOH-CHD, but apparently not those destined for the six recipients in Catanduanes – Bagamanoc RHU, Viga RHU, San Miguel RHU, Panganiban RHU, Virac RHU, and the Juan M. Alberto Memorial District Hospital in San Andres – have yet to receive their units.

“The DOH-CHD hopes that with the distribution of sea and land ambulances, impediments in health care delivery due to geographical location will be lessened, and that there will be an immediate delivery of patients in need of medical attention and response,” Vera said.

Each fully-equipped ambulance was acquired for P2.3 million under the agency’s approved 2019 budget for the Regional Health Facilities Enhancement Program (RHFEP).

Every unit has an automatic external defibrillator, nebulizer, portable suction machine, examining light, aneroid sphygmomanometer, folding stretcher, scoop stretcher, heavy-duty stethoscope, and oxygen cylinder, among others.

“The DOH-CHD ensures that the land ambulance is indeed needed by the LGU and its health facility. There will be no oversupply in consideration of the LGUs’ existing vehicle inventory,” Vera added.

Moreover, all LGU recipients, as per agreement with DOH-CHD, will provide at least two medical or paramedical workers who will be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to man the ambulance for medical emergencies.

“The recipients must ensure that all medical equipment will be utilized and properly maintained by allocating funds for its maintenance and operations,” Vera said.

“All disposable medical supplies shall be regularly replenished,” he said. “Emergency medical drills must also be done regularly to ensure that all assigned personnel, equipment, supplies and the overall functionality of the land ambulance are on peak capacities and conditions.” (with a report from PIA-5/DOH-CHD)

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