TURNING POINT: All for One and One for All

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 9 April) – Ironically, as the vaccine rollout spreads, spreads, too, in scary pace the virus, surging the infection cases sky high, to as much as 15,310 in a single day. Heart-breaking narratives circulate anent patients suspected with COVID-19 who had traveled distances for hours, moving from one hospital to another, only, at the end, refused of admission. Some died on the road or at the doorsteps of healthcare facilities without receiving medical attention. Their stories are disturbing and gnaw at our very core.

The plight, likewise, of overworked and overstressed health workers, some of which had succumbed to the disease scour our soul.

Even non-COVID-19 patients are also refused admission. Emergency rooms are filled to the rafter. For no one knows whether an arrival has the dreaded disease or not until swab-tested. This causes the long queue for admission in already overwhelmed healthcare facilities.

The stressful and futile search for available hospitals could be avoided.

DOH may establish, if this is not done yet, a central communication center to advise the public at any given time on hospitals that can still accommodate COVID-19 patients. A 911-like hotline may also be made available for the purpose.

In current situation when most hospitals in the Metro and nearby are already overloaded, it’s logical to advice patients to remain at home. Online practical and doable medical advice may be offered for their treatment or at least to mitigate their suffering.

It is incumbent for DOH to develop a kind of manual for patients with COVID-19 symptoms who would opt or are forced to stay at home under the present circumstances. It is helpful to know, preferably before an incident occurs, how to care such patients, what relief medicines to give appropriate their symptoms, and what easy-to-use health instruments or tools may be availed of.

Meanwhile, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar announced recently the completion of modular isolation and quarantine health care facilities with 131,517 beds nationwide. With the phenomenal surge of infection currently in NCR, the isolation czar announced the construction of modular hospitals and intensive care units and additional isolation and quarantine facilities in the Metro in due time. One modular hospital could be completed in 45 days, he said. The entire infra program costs, accordingly, around P5 billion, funded under the Bayanihan Act.

As shown in TV newscast, the ready-to-occupy outfits look impressive. We hope that they are accompanied with life support system like ventilators and oxygen tanks.

But of what good are buildings without the corresponding medical manpower? Who will man them?

Where to source fresh medical frontliners in this crisis has posed as a formidable challenge to government authorities, which until now is not met.

There is always a way out. We only have to stop thinking from the box.

Consider this. There are many in the medical profession who are not in the practice for one reason or another. We are aware, for instance, that thousands of registered nurses are hired in call centers in the country’s metropolis. They may be appealed of their humanity and offered attractive employment package and retrained to do battle against the pandemic.

Some nurses have joined the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Armed Forces as regular duty workers, in the absence of opportunities that suit their training and qualifications elsewhere. The government may inventory this class of personnel in the security forces of the state, retrain and deploy them soonest possible to public and private healthcare facilities.

Physicians of different specializations in private practice may be tapped, too, in the war against the pandemic.

It is everyone’s civic duty to join the fight against enemies of the land. If able, no one should resist draft for the purpose.

We citizens, outside the medical profession, are likewise obligated to do our share in fighting the enemy by submitting to vaccination and in continuing to observe strictly the pandemic health protocols, such as physical distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing of face mask and hand hygiene; and to commit ourselves to isolation and quarantine strategies when the situation so demands.

All for one and one for all is the call of the times.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is a retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)