Overwhelmed SPMC to open extension isolation facility for COVID-19 patients

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 Sep) – Amid the influx of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients seeking hospital care from Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the government-run hospital is scheduled to utilize a facility at the Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine (formerly Davao Mental Hospital) as another isolation facility for active cases.

The overwhelemed Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, which has been receiving an “unusually high volume of patients seeking admission for COVID-19.” MindaNews file photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Dr. Ricardo Audan said in a phone interview on Monday that this facility, with a capacity of 25 to 30 beds, would be opened on Wednesday to cater to the infected patients needing hospital admission.

He said that the hospital has been overwhelmed with new cases, admitting an unexpected influx of patients daily.

Last September 1, the SPMC opened the 44-bed modular hospital, constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, but even that facility catering to moderate to severe COVID-19 patients has been fully utilized, Audan said.

As of September 13, the SPMC reported that its 103 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 517 ward beds for COVID-19 patients have been fully occupied.

Audan believed that the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 caused the unprecedented surge of cases.

“What is happening now, with high transmission, we can already assume that it’s Delta because of its high transmissibility. These are the characteristics of Delta,” he pointed out.

Audan said the SPMC is awaiting the arrival of the equipment and reagent kits sometime “end of this month or any part of October” to operationalize the whole genome sequencing facility for the detection of variant cases.

He added that the team who will run the facility has been trained already.

The Department of Health (DOH)-Davao confirmed the detection of 36 additional Delta cases, of which 32 are local cases, one returning overseas Filipino, and three others who were tested and sequenced by other regions are still for verification.

To date, the DOH-Davao reported a total of 537 variants of concern (VOC) cases: Alpha variant, 139 cases; Beta, 304 cases; and Delta, 94 cases.

Of this total, the agency said 456 are tagged as clinically recovered and 49 deaths were reported.

There are two active VOC cases, and 30 cases are still under investigation, according to DOH-Davao.

Currently, Audan said the hospital still has a sufficient inventory of oxygen supply.

He said they have just operationalized the hyperbaric oxygen plant, on top of the two existing plants, to increase its supply of oxygen.

The three plants have a total of eight oxygen generators. Of the eight, two generators are currently being fixed, according to Audan.

He added that the six generators can produce 903 tanks daily, short of 280 tanks of its daily demand of 1,183.

He said the SPMC needs to outsource additional 470 tanks from three local manufacturers daily to ensure stable supply.

As of Sunday, DOH-Davao reported 910 new cases, bringing the total cases to 80,815 with 18,782 active, 59,578 recoveries and 2,455 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mindanao, logged 43,656 cases with 8,992 active, 33,335 recoveries and 1,329 deaths.

Davao de Oro tallied 5,303 cases, Davao del Norte with 14,280, Davao del Sur with 8,644, Davao Occidental with 2,540 and Davao Oriental with 6,392. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)