Baguio doctors lay down action plan to address COVID deaths; Support bubble in barangays eyed

BAGUIO CITY  – Medical authorities from public and private health sectors have laid down a plan of action to prevent more Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related fatalities among which the creation of “support bubble” or neighborhood watch program for the vulnerable population in the city’s barangays.

City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo in her report to the City Management Committee led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong Jan. 13 said the medical top brass which included directors of the different hospitals, infectious diseases experts and representatives from the Philippine College of Physicians brainstormed as the city continued to register an average of one death a day in its COVID-19 mortality tally which had run for four weeks now.

The body came up with a five-pronged approach which includes the support bubble strategy where support groups composed of relatives, neighbors and members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) will be assigned to monitor, look after and attend to the medical needs of the vulnerable residents like senior citizens and persons with pre-existing illnesses like those undergoing cancer and dialysis treatments.

Galpo said this is to ensure that their health conditions are being tracked so that they can be given immediate medical attention upon early symptoms.  This would also serve as a deterrent to widespread transmission as exposure to high risk members of the community will be limited to specific and minimal number of persons.

Mayor Magalong raised the possibility of adopting a doctor to the barrio concept to bring medical services to the barangays with guidelines to be drafted by a technical working group to be formed.

The strategies also include enhanced implementation of telemedicine mode of consultation.

Meanwhile, immediate isolation of positive members of the household in designated facilities will continue to be done to avoid further spread of the virus.

Advocacies for “early consult, early detection, early treatment” in the communities will be done through enhanced risk communication means as case analysis showed that one of the reasons for the increase in deaths was the late seeking of medical consultations as most of the most of the recent fatalities were either declared dead on arrival or already in severe in stages of illnesses upon arrival at the hospital.

As part of the strategy, test kits and immune system boosters like vitamins will also be made easily available in hospitals and health facilities.

On Jan. 19, medical practitioners will hold an alignment meeting to strengthen adherence to clinical practice guidelines and to familiarize themselves on updates on issuances and policies in their field.

The city had registered a total of 83 deaths from March 2020 to Jan. 14 for a 1.91 percent fatality rate.  Most of these patients belonged to the vulnerable sector like senior citizens and those with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and cancer. – Aileen P. Refuerzo