LGUs mandated to take care of “mild” COVID-19 patients

Following the controversy over Bicol’s COVID-19 patient #82’s being refused admission in three local hospitals, the provincial government last weekend reminded local officials as well as the municipal health offices and Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) of their vital roles in halting the pandemic.

In a statement on the issue of quarantine protocol surrounding the handling of Bicol #82, Governor Joseph C. Cua sought the patience and understanding of the public after hospital officials drew flak from netizens for the non-admission of the San Miguel Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC).

Citing Department of Health (DOH) Department Memorandum No. 2020-178, the chief executive stressed that only those who are “symptomatic, severe, or critical, classified as Suspect, Probable, or Confirmed COVID-18 case” or “symptomatic, mild, classified as Suspect, Probable or Confirmed COVID-19 case plus any of the two: (1) > 60 years old, (2) comorbidities,” are allowed entry into COVID-19 Referral Hospitals or COVID-19-Accepting Level 2 or 3 hospitals like EBMC.

“Please understand that Bicol #82 does not fall into either of the categories,” Gov. Cua said.

“Should Bicol #82 be admitted into EBMC, that would violate DOH guidelines, and set a precedent for future COVID-19 cases,” he pointed out. “If mere mild COVID-18 cases fill up EBMC’s isolation rooms, it will be difficult for us to manage moderate and severe cases.”

He assured the people that the provincial government is doing its utmost to safeguard the health of the Catandunganons as it follows the protocols set in place by the national government.

Pursuant to DOH DM No. 2020-178, patients classified as “asymptomatic with close contact” are supposed to be admitted at “Home quarantine for 14 days OR at a Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility for quarantine for 14 days.”

Patients which are “symptomatic, mild, classified as Suspect, Probable or Confirmed COVID-19 case” should be sent to “a Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility for isolation of 14 days, OR a Level 1 Hospital or Infirmary, OR Home isolation provided with clearance from the patient’s attending physician.”

The same guidelines state that the Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities shall cater to asymptomatic cases with close contact and mild symptomatic suspect, probable, and confirmed cases.

“Local government units (LGUs) shall establish these Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities,” the DOH memorandum states, with the LGUs and national government agencies to monitor and record patients quarantines and isolated in these facilities and at home.

It is not clear whether the 11 towns complied with the memorandum which was issued on April 11, 2020.

A source told the Tribune that only Virac has such a facility, the Rural Health Unit building in San Isidro Village.

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