ZamPen’s hospitals running out of oxygen and beds as COVID-19 cases surge

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 6 Oct) – The biggest hospital in Zamboanga Peninsula and a few others are experiencing shortage of oxygen and beds as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

The Zamboanga City Medical Center. MindaNews photo by FRENCIE CARREON

The Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), the region’s leading tertiary hospital, announced Tuesday through social media that it is experiencing “shortage of oxygen” as it has been “admitting about 30 COVID-19 patients every day.”

Dr. Abdel Kunting, hospital director, said that “the COVID situation we have now is more serious than in the past: more people are getting sick, their situation is more serious.”

The government hospital has controlled admission, especially in the case of those who needed oxygen, as it opened additional wards to accommodate the patient surge.

The Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center in Pagadian City in late August till September also ran out of beds and oxygen supply. Even its hospital chief, Dr. Anatalio Cagampang, was infected with the virus then.

Private hospitals in Zamboanga City have likewise frozen admission of patients who require oxygen due to supply shortage, said Dr. Marites Maxino, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines-Zamboanga City Chapter (PHAP-ZCC).

ZCMC, in its social media post, said that it has already prepared for possible oxygen shortage and thus renewed contract for 12,000 tanks with an outsourced supplier within the city. The spike in local demand, the hospital said, came after the news on COVID-19 surge in Cebu City wherein confined patients required high flow of oxygen.

The oxygen plant, according to ZCMC, had to deliver “in staggered basis of 109 tanks with a turnaround time of one week.”

The ZCMC, meanwhile, has “shouldered all expenses for the purchase of oxygen.”

Kunting appealed for the public’s cooperation in following minimum health standards, wearing face masks, minimizing going out, and observing social distancing.

“Let us help each other. We take care of you, but protect as well your own physical health,” the ZCMC hospital chief said, at the same time urging Zamboangueños to get vaccinated.

As Kunting and Maxino presented their appeals, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco said she has been working on facilitating the delivery of oxygen from Cebu and Manila.

Climaco, however, shared that oxygen suppliers are likewise doing their best in delivering oxygen to other provinces where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

As of early morning Wednesday, ZCMC reported that it now has 210 patients occupying its COVID-19 wards, exceeding its 200-bed allotment. Of the 210, 193 are confirmed cases, while the rest are considered suspects.

Seven of the patients are in highly critical condition, according to the ZCMC.

Hospital data show that 78 percent of the admitted COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)