Regional hospital declares ‘Code Red’ as Cagayan de Oro cases rise

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 28 July) – The Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), the main government hospital in the region attending to COVID-19 cases, declared a “Code Red” as cases here continue to rise at over 100 a day in the past few weeks.

Dr. Jose Bernard Julius Rocha of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center during the virtual press briefing in Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday (28 July 2021). Screengrab from the Cagayan de Oro City LGU Facebook page

Dr. Jose Bernard Julius Rocha, liaison officer of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, said the surge in COVID-19 cases is aggravated by the detection of seven of the highly infectious Delta variant in Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

Rocha said the NMMC went from Code Yellow to Code Red on Tuesday.

“It will be naive to think that the Delta variant did not cause the recent surge,” Rocha told reporters during a daily news briefing here Wednesday.

In its July 25 report, Octa Research said Cagayan de Oro now averages more than 100 cases of COVID-19 cases a day.

The Cagayan de Oro City Health Office reported that there were 135 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as active cases rose to 1,517.

The health office said a total of 492 patients have been admitted at the NMMC and other private hospitals.

Rocha said under Code Red, the NMMC is increasing its hospital beds dedicated for COVID-19 cases to 70 percent, or 210 beds.

He said in the previous Code Red when cases first surged in June, NMMC dedicated 50 percent of its beds for COVID-19. “But now we want to be ahead of things so we increased it to 70 percent,” Rocha pointed out.

The beds for critical care COVID-19 patients were likewise increased to 66 percent, or 140 beds, Rocha said.

He said that going Code Read means they will have to sacrifice other services of the hospital, like suspending all elective surgeries and reducing outpatient services.

Rocha advised patients needing consultation to instead avail of their “Telekonsulta” services. “Inquiries can be done on Facebook, then you will be directed to our teleconsultation services so specialists can attend to you,” he said.

The doctor said that with Code Red, they are also increasing their medical supplies. He said they have 53 mechanical ventilators but would be buying more.

“We have limited test kits but we are trying to procure as much as we can because we want to increase testing capacity,” Rocha said. He admitted that as of now, the NMMC is still not into testing asymptomatic patients because of this limitation, and is thus prioritizing symptomatic patients.

He said that as they increase bed capacity for COVID-19 patients to 70 percent, then 70 percent of the staff will also be devoted to COVID-19 cases. Rocha said they have called on their medical frontliners to report for more duties in the COVID-19 wards.

He said NMMC has not yet reached full capacity but is increasing its resources for the anticipated surge in cases with the Delta cases lurking around. “We know the Delta variant is already existing in our region as determined by the Philippine Genome Center,” Rocha pointed out.

“It goes to show that we have to take things seriously,” he said, adding that people’s cooperation is the main solution in containing the spread of the Delta variant. He reminded residents to continue with minimum health standards and to not go out if not needed.

Rocha warned that “the most vulnerable [to the Delta variant] are the unvaccinated population…. The local government unit and the Department of Health are working double-time to vaccinate as much as we can,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)