NOPH: not yet ready for COVID-19 unlike three private hospitals

NOPH Not Ready for COVID

DUMAGUETE CITY – At the worst scenario , the NOPH the biggest government hospital in Negros Oriental , does not have all the needed equipment to handle all COVID19 cases, far from the other three big private hospitals ACE Doctors, Holy Child Hospital and Silliman Medical Center. NOPH however was assured of full support by private hospitals when called upon anytime.

Dr. Liland Estacion, Assistant Head of provincial health  IPHO told members of the Provincial  COVID19 Task Force Council, Monday, March 16, that the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital (NOPH) doesn’t have enough equipment and medical specialists to handle COVID-19 positive patients, especially those in critical condition.

NOPH has no mechanical  ventilator at all, unlike the three  private hospitals. Gov Degamo must rush the purchase of mechanical ventilators using the CALAMITY FUNDS of the province which run to millions of pesos. What is the governor waiting for?

This was Dr. Estacion’s honest response on queries from the Negros Oriental Medical Society and guest resource speakers on their readiness, as the lone government-run facility accepting suspected COVID-19 patients in the province.

Doctors present explained that mechanical ventilators are crucial in giving appropriate medical attention to COVID-19 patients, who are likely to suffer from lung-related complications, which may result to death.

Dr. Estacion, however, said SUMC, ACE Doctors, and HCH has assured the provincial government of their support, in the event that patients need mechanical ventilators. As of writing, a total of 16 mechanical ventilators are available from the said private hospitals. However, this does not include those already used by non-COVID-19 patients.

The first COVID19 patient already died at the Silliman Medical Center last Sunday.

“We accept that NOPH is still on level one, a lower category hospital.  The private centers (Dumaguete City Private Hospitals) are already  level 3,” said Dr. Estacion. The provincial hospital is free of charge for indigents, unlike private hospitals.

Despite this setback, Dr. Estacion assured the council they have the full support  of others  by asking privately owned medical facilities in Dumaguete City, namely Silliman University Medical Center (SUMC), ACE Doctors, and Holy Child Hospital (HCH), to help them.

These three private hospitals have assured IPHO of their support, especially on the needed facilities and sub specialist doctors, medical residents and interns.

One major concern raised during the session was if NOPH has yet to purchase mechanical ventilators for critical COVID-19 patients, which Dr. Estacion disclosed that they have none.

“If, God forbid,  COVID-19 cases would exceed 16 (number of available mechanical ventilators), we are in trouble,” said Negros Oriental Vice-Governor Edwin Mark Macias.

Board members suggested buying mechanical ventilator for NOPH, which Macias immediately set-aside because of its urgency. “Procurement would take time,” the vice-governor said. Doctors suggested renting of mechanical ventilators for NOPH, which  Macias supported.

In a separate interview, Dr. Joven Occeña, who was present during the session, suggested at least 10 mechanical ventilators for NOPH for possible COVID-19 confinement.

“We need to convince our provincial government to buy more ventilators for NOPH. But evenif we  buy now, it will take time because all cities around the world are ordering (ventilators),” Dr. Occeña, an anesthesiologist, told Chronicle.

Dr. Occeña has recently organized a team, composing of trained doctors and nurses, to intubate COVID-19 patients in Dumaguete City. Yet, medical facilities in this city “lack (the) equipment” that they can use to do it. “We lack ventilators in Dumaguete. That includes private hospitals,” he said. –Ryan J. Sorote (BY RYAN CRIS SOROTE)