MANILA – The Philippines’ current critical care utilization rate (CCUR) is satisfactory, an expert from the University of the Philippines-College of Public Health (UP-CPH) said Wednesday.
“‘Yong atin pong (Our) rate at the moment is okay, so we have a good buffer but we need to see it with caution. While we already relaxed restrictions, we will only see it in the next two weeks so this is not a reason to be complacent,” Dr. Katherine Reyes, associate dean for research at UP-CPH, said during a virtual briefing.
Reyes noted that about 5 percent of the Covid-19 cases require intensive care.
The CCUR is the capacity of the country’s healthcare system and facilities to take care of those in need of critical care and make sure none dies of the illness.
“This (CCUR) is an important indicator because this says a lot about our capacity to provide the 5 percent the required medical attention,” she added in Filipino.
Of the 13,518 bed capacity for Covid-19 patients in the Philippines, 1,314 are allocated for the intensive care unit (ICU), 38.4 percent of which are occupied.
Meanwhile, at least 17.8 percent of the 1,982 ventilators are in use.
Reyes said setting up beds for ICUs are difficult given the number of staff members needed and the stringent policies required to run a unit.
“Ito ang last defense natin… kailangan siguraduhin na ‘di natin siya na-o-overwhelm (This is our last defense… we need to make sure it is not overwhelmed),” she said.
Reyes added that CCUR also shows how well the country can take care of Covid-19 patients and how many can recover from viral respiratory disease.
Once a country reaches or goes beyond its maximum CCUR, a crisis such as those seen in the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy will occur.
“Sa kasagsagan ng pandemic gaya ng sa Italy, dumating sila sa point na kailangan i-rationalize ang paggamit ng ICU. Sino ang i-prioritize sa bed, sino yung bibigyan ng ventilator, etc. Ayaw po natin na dadating tayo sa ganung punto (During the worst days of the pandemic in Italy, they came to a point where they had to rationalize the use of ICUs. Who are prioritized for beds, who will get a ventilator, etc. We don’t want to reach that point),” Reyes said.
Asked how she foresees the critical care for Covid-19 patients in the coming months, Reyes said this would depend on the implementation and compliance with preventive measures against illness.
Among these are physical distancing, wearing masks, and proper hygiene. On the part of the government, on the other hand, is aggressive contact tracing and isolation of identified cases.
The Department of Health (DOH) underscored that contact tracing remains an integral part of the Philippines’ overall response strategy against Covid-19.
“DOH through its Regional Offices will continue to coordinate with DILG which is the lead agency in the conduct of contact tracing activities to engage local government units and strategize how to mobilize more contact tracers,” it said in a statement.
On other efforts, DOH has approved 6,773 slots for hiring in 209 facilities and has redeployed 1,308 nurses to hospitals handling Covid-19 cases.
It also assured support to frontline healthcare workers and noted that the government is finalizing a joint administrative order for the release of cash assistance to fallen and sick medical staff.
Under Section 4 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act, health workers who will contract Covid-19 in line of duty starting February 1 will be entitled to a compensation of PHP100,000 while the kin of those who will die of the disease shall receive PHP1 million.
“In preparation for its implementation, our Public Assistance Unit has been calling the heirs of the 32 healthcare workers for the submission of necessary documents to claim the benefits. We are also gathering details to identify those who were classified as severe patients so they can be informed also of this benefit,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. (PNA)