Ilocos On request a medical “time out”


LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines – Medical workers in Ilocos Sur province were calling for a “wait time” as rising COVID-19 cases continue to overwhelm the province’s health system.

Dr Jun Tagorda, president of the Ilocos Sur Medical Society (ISMS), said on Saturday that asking for a timeout did not mean they would stop treating COVID-19 patients.

He said the provincial government should consider placing Ilocos Sur under enhanced community quarantine for at least two weeks to slow the spread of the virus and ease pressure on hospitals.

This would give the province time to address the shortage of quarantine and isolation facilities and help infected health workers recover.

The Southern Ilocos Sur Medical Society, groups representing municipal health workers and the Ilocos Sur chapters of the Philippine Nurses Association, the Philippine Hospital Association and the Association of Private Hospitals have joined the clamor with ISMS.

The province’s average daily attack rate was the second highest among provinces in the Ilocos region, at 31.08 per 100,000 population, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Ilocos Sur had 3,124 active infections on Saturday, out of the 10,990 total cases recorded since the pandemic struck last year.

Fast turnover

The spike in COVID-19 cases – fueled by the Delta variant – had reduced Ilocos Sur’s ability to perform “timely” testing and laboratory treatment of suspected carriers, Tagorda said.

The use of COVID-19 beds in public and private hospitals has also been faster than the rate of outgoing patients, said Dr Trina Talaga, COVID-19 incident commander at Ilocos Sur.

At Ilocos Sur-Gabriela Silang Provincial Hospital, the largest public hospital in the province, only one bed was vacant out of its 113 COVID-19 beds as of September 17, the DOH said.

The provincial hospital stopped taking non-COVID patients from September 8 to focus its resources on treating moderate to critical COVID-19 patients.

The DOH said the province’s COVID-19 bed occupancy rate had reached the “critical risk” level, with 89.2% of its 445 beds currently occupied, while 11 of its 20 isolation facilities were packed, with over 85% capacity. .

Health services in the towns of Ilocos Sur now suffer from a shortage of health workers, who have the simultaneous task of undertaking vaccination campaigns and tracing contacts, said Talaga.

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