Fear is real

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I got into a one-sided debate with a friend who felt that the demands of the medical community to give them a reprieve via an ECQ was absurd.

I read the appeal of the medical community and I assure you their fear is real every time they go on duty. I can only offer a silent prayer for them, especially for my sister who underwent heart surgery a couple of years ago and very much immunocompromise.

Yet, when duty calls, off to work she goes, hoping that she will survive the day without any untoward incident.

But I cannot underscore their fear and have been helping them reach out to medical suppliers for additional protective gear that they are willing to spend for, just as an added precaution, especially since some of their colleagues have tested positive.

That’s why I cannot help but get frustrated after learning from a supplier yesterday that they have been running out of high-grade face masks because the Bureau of Customs are delaying its release. Geez, even in this time of crisis, it is unbelievable to hear things like these.

We have been monitoring the situation at the Corazon LocsinMontelibano Memorial Regional Hospital as this is our last defense and the COVID-19 designated hospital here in our province.

Their recent announcement stated that they already have two personnel who tested positive of the virus. Those who were in close contact with these personnel have already been ordered to isolate until their results come out. Nevertheless, that means that there are less personnel on the floor to ensure that operations are unhampered.

The OB-Gyne ward has also been ordered shut down for disinfection and though we have our own birthing clinic here at the Bacolod City Health, we all know that the CLMMRH deals with many childbirth cases here since we do not have our own city hospital. With the new advisory that the entire OB-Gyne department will not accept any admission until further notice, what is the alternative hospital for indigent would-be-mothers?

On top of that, the Neonatal ICU of the Department of Pediatrics was also closed down yesterday while the Department of Surgery will now limit admissions except for “extreme emergency cases.”

Fear is definitely real and I just hope and pray that the spread can be contained at the regional hospital because where else will the general public go? While private hospitals have been mandated to allocate 30 percent of their beds for COVID cases, we are talking of non-COVID medical needs that are normally brought to CLMMRH because we do not have our own city hospital.

I hope the City Health Office have alternative hospitals for our residents who cannot afford rates of private hospitals. Where will they give birth now? Where will they bring their ailing babies? Where will they go for surgery? This just highlighted how we have neglected public health by wasting our resources on aesthetic structures rather than building our own city hospital.

Yesterday, I do not know whether to laugh or cry at the DOH announcement that they will now be more visible at the local level.

Really? Seven months into the pandemic and you tell us that you will now provide intervention for LGUs?

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced that part of their new strategy is to “go at the level of the local government units where we would want people to feel that DOH is there.”

“We are not going to wait for the patients to go to us. This time, the DOH plus the whole of government will be engaged so we will be able to go to the patients, to go to each house, to check for symptoms, to check if people have been exposed, and to provide the necessary interventions,” she said, calling it “house-to-house case finding.”

She must be dreaming! This is the same official who said that despite their call to hire medical frontliners, they are short of about 30 percent. So whom will they deploy for the house-to-house checking?

DOH said they will launch the CODE (Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic) protocol within the week which aims to operationalize “government-enabled approach, local government-led, people-centered response, with health taking the primacy in the approach.”

Ahh. Those words are run of the mill that our bureaucracy are fond of using to make it appear they are about to implement an important plan. The more technical they get, the better sounding it becomes. Yet, at the end of the day, these are but shallow words that fails to answer the immediate needs of our people especially during this crisis.

We already have over 116,000 cases in our country. 5,000 of these are medical frontliners. Some say we should stop talking about numbers as this does not help except to sow fear among the public. True. But those numbers are real and it is better to be fearful and be knowledgeable rather than be ignorant of the facts.

Be informed. It can save your life.*

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