Docs fear possible collapse of Gensan health care system

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – Medical practitioners in General Santos City expressed alarm over a possible collapse of the city’s health care system with the surge of COVID-19 cases in Region 12 or Soccsksargen this month.

Authorities in General Santos City have imposed movement restrictions after a spike in COVID-19 cases. MindaNews file photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

“The health care system in the city itself is in the brink of death,” according to Dr. Fidel Peñamante, president of the local chapter of the Philippine Medical Association.

Peñamante made the remark as the region saw new COVID-19 cases reaching 3,578 in the past two weeks despite measures put in place.

Peñamante pointed out that the city’s five major hospitals are already short of nurses and health workers, not to mention the inadequate beds in COVID-19 referral hospitals and isolation facilities.

What used to be one nurse attending to the needs of four to five patients has become eight patients and more, he said.

He said many isolation facilities are also filled up with some already accommodating beyond capacity.

Hospitals and other health facilities here cater not only to city residents but also to those in nearby towns in Sarangani and South Cotabato who come to the city for their medical confinements and needs.

General Santos and the rest of Soccsksargen region have been placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) classification by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases since June 1.

Peñamante and other medical practitioners have been moving for a COVID-19 summit to allow every sector in General Santos to propose specific actions to take to prevent the virus from further spreading in the city.

The group has also urged the local government to impose a 14-day “hard lockdown,” but General Santos Mayor Ronnel Rivera explained that city hall has to do a balancing act.

Rivera said local officials were studying every option while keeping in mind the need to cushion the impact of any decision on the local economy.

The city government has so far imposed a “No-Movement Sunday” policy, nightly six-hour curfews, and liquor ban, and limited the number of people going to malls, food establishments, and churches.

Arjohn Gangoso, health education and promotions officer of the Department of Health in Soccsksargen, said experts have noted that the virus has been spreading fast in households, offices, and other workplaces in some parts of the region in the past few weeks.

Gangoso blamed the rate of COVID-19 infections on many people’s disregard of basic health protocols in Region 12.

The Soccsksargen region consists of General Santos City and the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and South Cotabato, and the component cities of Koronadal, Tacurong, and Kidapawan.

South Cotabato and its component city, Koronadal, registered as the area in Soccsksargen with the most number of new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. It accounted for 40 percent or 1,428 of the newly documented infections in the region, DOH records showed.

General Santos trailed behind with 689 new cases, Cotabato province and its component Kidapawan City ranked third with 630 newly documented cases.

The province of Sultan Kudarat had 495 cases and Sarangani 336 cases.

With the newly confirmed cases, Soccsksargen’s COVID-19 tally since 2020 reached 20,680 as of Thursday, June 24. The region’s cumulative number of COVID-19 recoveries reached 18,156.

The DOH recorded 306 new infections and 2,177 active cases on the same day.

Since 2020, South Cotabato has so far logged 6,831 cases; General Santos, 5,419; Cotabato province, 3,915; Sultan Kudarat, 2,443; and Sarangani, 2,046. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)