BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
A top level national government team is arriving to assist Bacolod City in its COVID-19 battle, in response to Mayor Evelio Leonardia’s urgent appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday for help.
“We want to assure you that the national government is here to help you…We will support you all the way,” Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Michael Lloyd Dino, assured Leonardia last night.
Dino told the mayor he is arriving in Bacolod City tonight with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, overseer of the Task Force COVID-19 in Cebu, and retired general Mel Feliciano, the task force’s deputy overseer.
Senator Bong Go informed Leonardia yesterday that the team of Cimatu and Dino will be in Iloilo and Bacolod cities today and tomorrow to assist them in the battle to curb the spread of COVID-19.
A team of health workers will be brought to Bacolod City to augment its health personnel in the fight against the pandemic, Dino said.
National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer, Carlito Galvez Jr., also informed Leonardia last night that if he cannot make it tomorrow he will visit Bacolod next week.
Galvez promised to deploy health personnel in Bacolod and arrange for some city hotels to serve as “bend-down” facilities for recovering COVID patients so hospitals can be freed to admit critically-ill COVID patients.
He also assured Leonardia that he will sendfive High-Flow Nasal Cannulas and Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used for seriously-ill COVID patients, to the CLMMRH.
Leonardia yesterday sent an “emergency and urgent appeal” to the president to send an augmentation team of 150 nurses, 20 doctors, and 30 medical technologists from the DOH to Bacolod as an “emergency stop-gap measure” before the city’s health care system bogs down due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The mayor said the recent spike in local transmissions in Bacolod has filled up the 149 COVID-19 beds in the seven hospitals of the city.
“The situation has worsened because many of the medical staff in these hospitals had tested positive for the virus and had to go on quarantine/isolation and they have not yet reported back to work, while several others have resigned or have gone AWOL. Most of these personnel are nurses,” Leonardia told the president.
An augmentation team can alternate with the staff that are still on duty at these hospitals or fill up the gap for those who are still in on quarantine,” he added.
Since Sunday, these hospitals have turned away COVID-19 patients or those with COVID symptoms, saying they are already full or that there are no more doctors and nurses to take care of new patients, he added.
He also said the city only has four infectious disease specialists on active duty in the seven hospitals. Patients have already died in their homes for failing to avail of emergency hospital services, Leonardia added.
MORE HOSPITAL BEDS
Meanwhile, Department of Health 6 regional director, Dr. Marlyn Convocar, said yesterday that hospital beds for COVID-19 patients will be increased and augmentation personnel will be provided in Bacolod City to meet the rising number of cases.
Convocar, in an advisory, said that based on a meeting with officials of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital and private hospitals in Bacolod City, dedicated COVID-19 beds will be increased from 157 to 255, or an additional 98 beds.
Molecular laboratories in Bacolod also committed to prioritize the processing and releasing of RT-PCR test results of affected health care workers, she said.
She also said the DOH will augment personnel at Bacolod City hospitals and provide personal protective equipment to healthcare workers.
The DOH 6 is regularly coordinating with officials and health authorities in Bacolod City to address the COVID-19 situation, she added.
With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Bacolod, Convocar reiterated the need for the public to strictly comply with the minimum health care standards to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
CLMMRH chief, Dr. Julius Drilon, said the COVID-19 rooms at his hospital last night were full with 60 admitted and three waiting at the emergency room, one of whom was intubated and the two others were in bad shape.
He also said one patient died yesterday.
A source said two call center agents hit by the virus died yesterday but health authorities could not be reached for confirmation.*