GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 August) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is planning to activate this week its “One Hospital Command Center” (OHCC) in preparation for the possible surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the next few weeks.
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo, Jr. said on Monday that preparations are underway for the activation of the system, which will interconnect all hospitals and other related facilities in the province that are catering to COVID-19 patients.
He said it will have a call center set up at the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in Koronadal City that would be operating “24/7” or 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The governor said he instructed the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), through its head Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, Jr., to finalize the system and other necessary arrangements within the week.
“We will conduct a dry run for the system in the next few days to correct possible gaps and ensure its smooth rollout,” he said during the regular flag-raising ceremony at the provincial capitol.
The OHCC is patterned after the system launched in September last year by the Department of Health (DOH) in Metro Manila to facilitate the proper utilization of hospital resources and coordinate the admission of COVID-19 patients.
Under the system, Tamayo said the command center will be regularly updated on the status of concerned hospitals, especially on the available beds and facilities.
He said local government workers, including those assigned in barangay isolation facilities, may call up the OHCC hotlines in case a patient will need hospital attention.
The command center will evaluate the status of the patients and refer them to hospitals with available resources, he said.
Tamayo said the activation of the OHCC was among the strategies that they adopted for the province’s surge plan against the COVID-19 variants, especially the dreaded Delta strain.
He said they coordinated the matter with government doctors, hospital owners and operators, and members of the South Cotabato Medical Society in a meeting last week.
As of Monday, he said local hospitals are still coping in terms of COVID-19 admissions but noted that about 75 percent of the available hospital beds are already occupied.
The South Cotabato Provincial Hospital has 60 beds, including five in the intensive care unit, and four mechanical ventilators for COVID-19 patients while private hospitals have a combined capacity of 50 beds.
“Our problem right now is we have many patients in our holding area that have pending RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) results. If even just half of them will turn out positive, our occupancy will reach 100 percent,” he said.
South Cotabato province is currently under Alert Level 4 due to the threats posed by the spread of the highly contagious and potentially more virulent COVID-19 Delta variant.
The IPHO reported 148 new COVID-19 infections in the province on Sunday, increasing the active cases in its 10 towns and lone city to 955, the second-highest in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
The confirmed cases in the area since last year have reached a total of 10,534, the highest in the region, with 318 related deaths and 9,261 recoveries. (MindaNews)