City steps up efforts to declog hospitals

Sept. 5, 2021 – The city government continues to find ways to help hospitals whose facilities and manpower are now on critical level due to the surge in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the city is working on increasing the city government-run stepdown facilities where patients on convalescence and those who have moderate symptoms but are in stable stable condition can be admitted.

The city will now also allow home isolation for asymptomatic patients provided that they are monitored by the district health centers and the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).

This way, the city can help declog and prevent hospitals from getting further overwhelmed by having them admit only patients who are severe or moderate and unstable, according to the mayor.

City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said 24 stepdown units are available at the Baguio City Community Isolation Unit (BCCIU) at the Sto. Niño Hospital and this will be increased in the coming days as the city works out the expansion of the BCCIU to add 150 isolation beds to its current 350 bed capacity.

Apart from the BCCIU, the city operates five other isolation facilities located at Roxas Hall, Romulo Hall and Magsaysay Hall of the Baguio Teachers’ Camp, Laurel Dorm 2, Central Triage Quarantine Facility at the Baguio Convention Center and Ferionni Apartments. The six units have a an increased total bed capacity from 879 to 920.

The city eyes Eurotel as augmentation pending renewal of documents even as its continues to scout for additional sites, among which the other halls at Teachers’ Camp, for buffer isolation units.

Apart from addressing the bed shortage in hospitals, the mayor said they are helping augment their manpower as COVID-19 cases among health workers also increase.

He said the city is working out the hiring of 50 nurses to serve in private hospitals, 30 of whom will be paid by the city government.  The city is waiting for word on its request to the Dept. of Health (DOH) for the hiring of the 20 others to be paid by the national government.

For the city isolation units, the city had sought the assistance of the Baguio-Benguet Medical Society and other specialty groups to help in the management of patients.

Galpo said the critical care utilization rate in the different hospitals in the city had reached the critical level as patients continue to increase.

As of Sept. 6, the five hospitals operating in the city have a total of 414 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients.  Of the number, 135 serve as isolation, 159 as COVID-19 ward and 81 as intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 39 with ventilators. – Aileen Refuerzo