DOH: NCR’s critical care capacity now at 'danger zone' with over 70% isolation, ward beds occupied

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) - The Department of Health said Tuesday that Metro Manila’s critical care capacity is now at danger level as more than 70 percent of isolation and ward beds for COVID-19 patients are already occupied.

Health Spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire explained that being in the “danger zone” means the utilization rate of COVID-19 facilities is at 70 to 100 percent.

Vergeire said 73.7 percent of isolation beds and 77.4 percent of ward beds for COVID-19 patients of the capital region are already occupied as of July 12.

On the other hand, 61 percent of intensive care unit beds are occupied while 36.3 percent of mechanical ventilators are currently being used by patients.

The DOH said that it is already coordinating with hospitals and treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) in case there is a surge of cases in the country.

“Nakikipag-ugnayan din po kami sa mga LGUs at TTMFs para magkaroon ng maayos na referral system upang ang mga mild na kaso mula sa ospital ay i-refer na lamang sa TTMFs para ma-decongest ang ating mga ospital,” said Vergeire.

[Translation: We are coordinating with local government units and TTMFs in order to have an orderly referral system, so that those with mild symptoms confined in hospitals can be referred to TTMFs in order to decongest our hospitals.]

Vergeire announced earlier that there are currently nine hospitals in the country that have reached maximum bed capacity for COVID-19 patients. They are University of Santo Tomas Hospital, FY Manalo Medical Foundation Inc., Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center, Qualimed Health Network Sta. Rosa, UPH-Dr. Jose G. Tamayo Medical University Foundation Inc., Tricity Medical Center Inc., Westlake Medical Center, Antipolo City Medical Hospital, and Ortigas Hospital and Healthcare Center Inc.

READ: St. Luke’s, Makati Med COVID-19 facilities already at full capacity

The DOH today reported 634 new COVID-19 infections, raising the country’s total to 57,545.

Overall, the country has 14,945 ICU, isolation, and ward beds for COVID-19 patients with 49-percent utilization rate. Vergeire said that the utilization rate of these beds is still at “warning zone”, which means that the country’s health system is still operating at normal capacity.

However, Vergeire said that being in the warning level is also an indicator that hospitals should prepare for sudden increase of cases. As such, the DOH is requesting hospitals to convert 30 percent of their beds into COVID-dedicated beds based on Administrative Order 2020-0016.

READ: DOH: Private hospitals show low compliance rate for COVID beds amid reports of full capacity

Moreover, DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega suggested that public and private hospitals should collaborate in order to provide more access to COVID-19 patients.

“One way of doing this is to come up with a good network and collaboration between the public and private. With one hospital command, wherein we will see in a dashboard where the free ICUs are free and where we can refer these patients,” Vega told CNN Philippines.

“What we are trying to do here is not just to expand the number of beds in the private [hospitals]...but also making a system out of the public and private institutions to give more access to patients with Covid,” he added.