The medical director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on Monday sounded the alarm on a possible second wave of coronavirus cases that could overwhelm hospital wards across the country but later said a memo he sent out to his staff that was leaked online could merely be attributed to increased testing for COVID-19.
PGH chief Dr. Gap Legaspi issued a statement after his memo on the hospital's situation was leaked on Viber and other online platforms.
"Wards 5th 1, 3, 4 are almost full. We have 8 referrals from outside waiting to be admitted. We are trying to manage it without opening Ward 2 but if needed we have to. MICU SICU and CENICU also getting filled soon," the message on Viber read.
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It also said it “could be the 2nd wave that we are anticipating” and that hospital staff will have to adjust and await for further instructions.
“All departments please be on standby for further instructions. Will also reassess the pace and extent of our resumption activities. Please inform all your staff to be on standby,” the leaked memo added.
In a statement issued in answer to several media queries, including from the Standard, Legaspi confirmed the leaked memo that said several PGH wards were almost full of coronavirus patients.
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He said it was an internal memo that was "inadvertently shared."
"From the onset, an increasing trend of admission was seen, peaking at 172 patients by end of April, and as the [modified enhanced community quarantine] was implemented, a downward trend was observed by mid-May,” Legaspi said.
“With an average in-patient census of 75 a day being sustained over several days, we closed Ward 2 two weeks go," he added.
Legaspi said PGH initially committed 130 beds for COVID-19 patients who were distributed to 11 areas in the hospital, including Wards 1, 2, 3, and 4. This allowed them to redistribute their personnel to tend to non-COVID patients.
"However, in the last few days, we experienced more patient admissions and [fewer] discharges,” he said.
“The buffer beds we would have wanted to maintain to make for a smooth transfer of patients from other hospitals were dwindling. Hence, the possibility of opening up Ward 2 again was brought up with the advisory board on June 14, 2020," he said.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier denied that the PGH is running out of beds for patients despite the leaked memo.
"This was not really meant to be sent outside," she said during a Palace briefing.
Legaspi attributed the increase in admissions to more people being tested.
“We are detecting more COVID positive patients in moderate and severe status,” he said.
Legaspi also said PGH received patients from Manila – which he said has the highest number of active cases at more than 1,000 – and Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Las Piñas.
The PGH also receives cases from the Bureau of Corrections and other quarantine facilities.
"PGH is also the only COVID referral center with a dedicated pediatric and obstetric COVID service. Thus the increase could be because of the referral bias and may not be truly reflective of the situation in the rest of NCR or the country."
He said the hospital is “not yet at full occupancy,” especially since they prepared 200 beds or more than the 130 they committed at the start of the pandemic.
“But wanting to be a step ahead, I asked our department chairs to take preemptive measures to prepare for the consequences of any downscaling of a community quarantine status," he added.
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