5 health workers in Davao City positive for COVID-19, 2 of them SPMC frontliners

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 March) – Five health workers, two of them frontliners at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), SPMC chief of hospital Leopoldo Vega confirmed on Tuesday.

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“A doctor and another nurse tested positive for COVID-19 in SPMC because they broke the protocol. When they resuscitated the patient in the emergency room, they did not put on the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment),” Vega said during a virtual presser over PIA Davao Region’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

Vega said the three non-SPMC health workers, all of them doctors of a private hospital here, have acquired the COVID-19 from a patient who they assisted in transferring to SPMC, one of the two hospitals recognized by the Department of Health-Davao to administer COVID-19 cases, aside from the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City.

“The COVID-19 can be anywhere. If you are a hospital worker, the great risk of getting COVID-19 is always there,” he said.

He said frontline health workers have been instructed to observe extra precaution in dealing with patients who are confined at their hospital for being classified as persons under investigation (PUIs).

Vega said all frontline health workers are required to be in full protective gear every time they deal with PUIs who are “presumed” to have acquired the infection, “so that if there is a chance that the patient is positive, at least you have the protection.”

“Don’t break the protocols. Follow the protocols. Look at patients as if all .. are infected,” he stressed.

Failure to follow the protocols may expose health workers to a greater risk of acquiring the infection, Vega pointed out.

“The mindset before was, ‘maybe the patients don’t have the infection yet.’ Right now, we have changed the mindset of everybody there. All of the people that come around patients, the mindset should be ‘we’re all infected,’ so we get the necessary PPEs when you resuscitate in the [emergency room],” he said.

Vega said the hospitals always makes sure to provide support for the health workers such as necessary resources, including PPEs, food, and lodging.

He added they also subject frontliners to testing to “give them confidence that they are COVID-19 negative.”

So that if in case the frontliner is COVID-positive, Vega said, the health worker would then be pulled out from duty so as not to infect others. “All the frontline health workers must be tested to make sure nobody is ‘handicapped’,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)