Metro Manila mayors have started converting local hospitals and buildings into dedicated facilities for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients with the expected increase in the number of cases.
READ: Hospitals bursting at the seams, plead for relief in treating cases
Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Wednesday said in preparation for a worst-case scenario, the 10-story Santa Ana Hospital will be turned into a dedicated COVID-19 facility.
Earlier, Domagoso launched the Santa Ana Hospital that now hosts the Manila Infectious Disease Control Center, accommodating patients who might be infected with COVID-19.
At the same time, Domagoso said the city government may convert public schools into quarantine areas for patients under investigation (PUIs) with mild symptoms.
He said if cases shoot up, they would have to segregate “the sick and the healthy.”
The Manila mayor also appealed for assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in connection with the distribution of relief supplies during the enhanced community quarantine.
“What we really need is food,” he said, noting “the snowball effect” of keeping people under quarantine.
On March 12, Domagoso unveiled the city government’s COVID-19 response plan that included a budget for information dissemination, provision for food and water, medicine and purchase of medical equipment to curtail the spread of the disease.
Domagoso set aside a budget for vitamin supplements for senior citizens, who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, Manila 89 patients under investigation (PUIs) and 30 positive cases, with two recovered, and two deceased, the Manila Public Information Office said.
Meanwhile, three buildings owned by the Villar family will be used by Las Piñas General Hospital as an extension, temporary housing for health care workers and a quarantine facility.
Senator Cynthia Villar turned over the three buildings to the hospital, saying temporary housing would spare health care workers from having to commute daily.
“The hospital can also use it to complement their existing facilities to better cope with the demand for beds and rooms,” said Villar.
"The number of COVID-19 patients are increasing as testing becomes readily available and hospitals are running out of space. The three buildings combined can help LPGH handle more patients and provide accommodation for their health care staff too,” she added.
The Villar family will also take care of the daily food needs of the Las Pinas General Hospital staff.
The buildings housed the Las Piñas Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP) and the Provincial Board Members’ League, all in Barangay Ilaya, Las Pinas City.
The drug rehabilitation center will give up one of two buildings, Villar said.
Also on Wednesday, Makati Mayor Abby Binay announced that the Makati Friendship Suites in Barangay Cembo are now ready to serve as an isolation facility for PUIs or those who have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
Binay said three buildings, which used to be a hotel, have been converted into isolation areas to tend to patients’ medical needs and to prevent the local transmission of COVID-19.
Binay said doctors and nurses from the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) will be in charge of monitoring the patients at the Friendship Suites.
Medical equipment, including X-ray machines, defibrillators, and cardiac monitors have been set up in the isolation facility, she added.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, asked health officials to convert the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex into quarantine centers for PUIs, while Senator Francis Pangilinan said military hospitals and the Quezon Institute could be used for severe cases of COVID-19.
Binay said PUIs could stay in the recently upgraded sports facilities instead of going home to await test results.
The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex houses the 8,000-seat capacity Rizal Memorial Coliseum, dormitories, an open-air track, baseball and football fields, tennis and other indoor sports facilities.
Citing Department of Health estimates, there may be thousands of PUIs in three to four months, putting a strain on hospitals.
If there will be no interventions to decongest hospitals and provide alternative half-way centers, she said the situation would get worse.
Pangilinan, on the other hand, wants to convert military hospitals V. Luna Medical, Veterans’ Memorial Medical plus Quezon Institute into COVID centers.
Aside from severe and critical cases, these can also be used for those undergoing dialysis, emergency cases, and cancer patients—although these would be among the more vulnerable to COVID-19.