EBMC seeks P13-M in emergency funds to address increasing COVID19 cases

The increasing number of COVID-19 cases and subsequent admissions of patients are stretching the resources of public and private health facilities to the breaking point.
Describing the situation as “alarming,” Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes said almost private and public hospitals are in full capacity with respect to their COVID wards.
The PHO report was made during the Oct. 15, 2021 emergency meeting of all chief of hospitals, the Department of Health (DOH) provincial officer, the incident commander of the Incident Management Team (IMT) and members of the Local Finance Committee (LFC) called by Governor Joseph Cua.
Among the district hospitals where 20% of bed capacity is allocated to COVID-19 cases, COVID bed utilization reached 60% at Pandan district hospital, 65% at Viga district hospital, and 40% at Juan M. Alberto Memorial District Hospital, with the latter recently adding eight rehabilitated rooms to the dedicated ward.
The meeting was precisely called to hear suggestions from hospital chiefs on how to address congestion and increase bed capacity.
Dr. Palmes said the province should prioritize the needs of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center, citing the increasing concern over availability of medical oxygen with the hospital requiring about 2,100 tanks per month.
The provincial hospital recently borrowed two ventilators from JMAMDH, as only one of its seven ventilators was not occupied as of last week.
In an advisory, EBMC chief of hospital Dr. Vietrez Abella said the hospital is accepting only Level 2 patients, with only properly-coordinated referrals from other hospitals and rural health units to be accepted.
These Level 2 patients include Obstetrics-Gynecology complicated cases, adult medical cases that have to be seen by specialist (heart attack, complicated hypertension, moderate to high risk pneumonia, stroke), pediatric cases that are complicated (gastroenteritis with dehydration, pneumonia, diseases of the newborn), and surgical cases.
“There may be some waiting time as vacated rooms have to undergo ventilation, disinfection, and air-drying to ensure safety for incoming patients,” she stated, with 14 of our staff also isolated or quarantined.
Abella disclosed during the meeting that of the 25 beds allocated for COVID, 14 are set aside for confirmed cases and 11 for suspect and probable cases. Of the 25 beds, of which four are Intensive Care Unit (ICU) rooms, 20 were occupied as of last week, the highest in recent months.
“We accept patients without question, brought straight to the ward without passing through the emergentcy room,” she said, as long as the criteria for transfer – difficulty of breathing and low oxygen saturation – are met.
The EBMC chief also noted an increasing number of pregnant women who are COVID cases.
Echoing the concerns of other hospitals, Dr. Abella stressed that EBMC needs immediate funding of about P13 million as it faces a shortage of oxygen tanks, ventilators and medical supplies, as well as medical personnel.
She asked for a P100,000 petty cash fund to procure urgently needed medical supplies like oxygen refills and PPEs.
Over the past week, another 170 new cases were added to Catanduanes’ confirmed coronavirus cases, a 23-percent decrease from the record 219 set from Oct. 3 to 9.
Of this total, Virac accounted for 69, followed by Caramoran with 17, Bato with 15, San Andres with 14, Pandan and Viga with 12 each, San Miguel and Bagamanoc with 11 each, Panganiban with six, Gigmoto with two, and Baras with one case.
This brought the total number of active cases in the island to 481, not including recoveries for Oct. 16.
The active cases are in Virac (147), Caramoran (54), San Andres (37), Viga (32), San Miguel (27), Pandan (25), Bato (23), Bagamanoc (23), Panganiban (7), Baras (4) and Gigmoto (2). Fatalities rose by one to 62 so far.
RT-PCR test results on Oct. 16 alone had 52 new cases, including 10 health personnel, three teachers, and three employees of national agencies.
Among the infected health personnel are four nurses and two nursing aides at EBMC as well as three other hospital workers.
Clusters of home transmission cases involving entire families were also recorded in Viga, Bagamanoc, San Miguel and Caramoran.
The surge in new cases and a clamor from alarmed residents prompted the Municipal Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 to ask Virac Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr. to reimpose a curfew and liquor ban in the capital town beginning Oct. 18, 2021.
Under the executive order issued last week, the curfew hours run from 10 PM to 4AM, with only essential personnel exempted, while the liquor ban covers the selling, buying and consumption of intoxicating substances.

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