Over the weekend, Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares issued a statement asking all hospitals in Bacolod City to provide immediate information to the LGUs if their health workers are under the list of “suspected” COVID-19 positives, have been swabbed and awaiting results.
This came at the heels of another resident who works at a hospital in Bacolod that is now the 30th COVID-19 patient in Talisay.
From Mayor Neil’s statement, the health worker was symptomatic and was advised by hospital management to undergo home quarantine.
However, no one bothered to inform the LGU of the situation, until after the results came out positive.
“Had we known prior, we could have taken the necessary steps to better handle the situation at the earliest possible time,” the mayor said.
Following this, the mayor sealed off the area where the patient lives and quarantined the entire family as well.
And I join the call for transparency among the hospitals as immediate information is vital to curb the spread of the virus, especially since health workers, no matter how stringent the protocols are at our health facilities, are prone to catch the virus.
The Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, the Teresita Jalandoni Provincial Hospital and the Bacolod Adventist Medical Center have been very transparent about their health care workers contracting the virus and announced closure of departments and hospital wings that needed disinfection for public awareness.
Contact tracing within health facilities are much easier since it is an enclosed environment plus the fact that these are professionals who have been briefed about transmission and prevention. What the local chief executives are facing is tougher because they need to prevent community transmission and the only way to do it is immediate isolation of cases in their locality if they are properly informed.
I am not sure what the reason was for not informing the LGU, more so since the patient was already displaying symptoms even before test results came out.
What is there to hide? In fact, the more transparent hospitals are in their situation, the more trustworthy they are as a health facility.
BAMC even came out with their COVID-19 dashboard they update on a weekly basis. This includes information on how many COVID admissions they have, their recoveries and deaths, number of health workers screened and how many are positive and which areas in the hospitals have been sealed off and which remain open.
Being transparent of the hospital’s state also erases the stigma of COVID-19 among health workers thus I find it odd that other hospitals, whom I know have positives in their midst, opted to keep mum about their situation.
The Riverside Medical Center for one, has announced that they have over a dozen staff infected weeks ago and 64 others who were swabbed as part of their contact tracing. Since then, we have had no updates which makes me wonder why.
Many of our hospitals here are short on staffing because of mandatory quarantine even after their test results came out negative just to be on the safe side. My niece, a nurse who had been exposed to a positive patient turned out negative but all the same, she had to finish another 10 days of quarantine.
I am thankful for those who have the hindsight to inform family and friends that they are or may be infected, thus making us aware to avoid seeing them and more importantly, to pray for their well-being that they recover from it without needing critical care.
I am also glad that the request of Bacolod, Negros Occidental and Iloilo to suspend for two weeks the repatriation of Locally Stranded Individuals and Returning Overseas Filipinos. This will give a break to our LGUs to manage current cases, review their protocols, and hopefully after two weeks, have ample space in our swamped quarantine facilities for incoming repatriates.
I am not sure if this includes the Overseas Filipino Workers but they are easier to manage since OWWA is dedicated to take care of their needs and if some hotels have been paid off, then they will have a place to stay while awaiting their test results.
Lastly, a shout out to the local government of Don Salvador Benedicto, particularly their youth sector, who were deputized by Mayor Marxlen de la Cruz to conduct information drive regarding COVID-19 during weekends.
Armed with placards and wearing face masks, the youth leaders take position outside food and tourism establishments to remind visitors to follow health and safety protocols by wearing face masks and social distancing.
Many people drive up to DSB on weekends to take in the fresh air and the view of the mountain ranges. A couple weeks back, a friend who has a farm there said the picnic grounds there were filled with people and was worried that health protocols are not being followed.
Mobilizing the youth and letting them take part in enforcement and advocacy is a good practice to ensure that the town remain COVID-free especially after their two cases have now been declared recovered.