Hospitals now struggling with non-COVID emergencies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 9) — Hospitals in Metro Manila have reported a huge drop in COVID-19 admissions over the past days, but health workers are still not getting a break to tend to non-COVID patients.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Philippine General Hospital spokesperson Jonas del Rosario said PGH recorded zero COVID-19 admission a few days back, and new cases are just coming in "trickles" now with an average of two to three per day, down from over 20 patients during the surge.

However, the PGH's newly opened emergency room is facing a "deluge" of patients with pneumonia, lung and heart problems, and in need of surgery.

"The Philippine General Hospital has opened a new emergency room. It is a big emergency room and ang nangyari po dinagsa ang (what happened was people flocked to the) emergency room. There was a deluge of people coming in, mostly non-COVID patients to a point that the ER easily got filled up and we had a significant number of backlogs because the wards couldn't catch up with patients coming in," Del Rosario explained.

The PGH began its operations last year as one of the government's designated COVID-19 referral center to attend to rising infections.

Del Rosario said it seems patients are now brave enough to take advantage of the low number of COVID-19 cases to seek medical care.

East Avenue Medical Center chief Alfonso Nuñez said the hospital is also experiencing the same thing because its emergency room, which can accommodate up to 70 patients, is now handling up to 100 non-COVID patients.

"(The) admission rate of the hospital right now is around 93% bed capacity, pero (but) most of these are non-COVID cases. We have only 12 confirmed cases of COVID admitted in the East Avenue Medical Center," he said.

Nuñez also said the East Avenue Medical Center has extended the consultation hours and outpatient services to cater to more patients.

Meanwhile, Del Rosario appealed to local government units to help out so they can accommodate other general cases. He also urged the public to schedule an appointment via hotline 155-200 so they can be pre-assessed on the urgency of their needs.

"If there is a need for you to come in to be admitted, we will do that…we will be entertaining life-and-limb emergencies like trauma, heart attack, stroke...surgery," he added.

The Department of Health on Wednesday recorded 365 new COVID-19 infections, the lowest since July 2, 2020, when there were less than 300 new cases. OCTA Research said Metro Manila alone recorded 96 new cases.

READ: DOH logs 356 new COVID-19 cases, lowest in 17 months