April 21, 2020
A reinforcement in the supply of isolation gowns, personal protective equipment (PPE), and financial support to the new function as COVID 19 “war zone” at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) has been extended by Bayer Philippines.
With the rising of cases in the current pandemic, LCP had to expand its ICU (intensive care unit) complex to accommodate a lot more patients suffering from severe and critically ill COVID-19.
Designated by the Department of Health as COVID-19 Referral Center for Severe and Critical Cases, the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) functions as a tertiary referral center in the country specialized in chest and lung diseases.
It has the necessary equipment capable of providing advanced respiratory support to patients with complicated respiratory conditions.
Dr. Norberto A. Francisco, LCP chief of Clinical Trials and Research and spokesperson for COVID-19 Incident Command System, said that the hospital has had a similar preparation in the past for isolation ICUs (intensive care unit) in a unit detached from the main building during the eras of SARS (Severe Acquired Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) -COV, albeit in a much smaller scale.
For COVID-19, LCP started preparations as early as mid January, two months before the Metro Manila-wide community quarantine was imposed on March 12.
At that time, the center was already managing PUI (persons under investigation) cases and had isolated these patients from the main building to avoid infecting non COVID-19 patients, Dr. Francisco recalls.
Right now, cash and PPE donations have been pouring in from individuals, companies, and the government.
“We sincerely thank the people at Bayer for their kind hearts to help us and our fellow health care workers here at the Lung Center of the Philippines while we care for our patients,” Dr. Francisco gratefully said.
LCP has converted their new open-air outpatient building into a triage or receiving area for COVID-19 related patients.
They have also designated “red zone” areas dedicated to suspect or confirmed COVID-19 patients including wards, isolation rooms, ICUs, hallways, elevators and specific routes for transport, for the safety and protection of all.
Four out of six of their regular wards were dedicated to COVID-19 isolation rooms and one whole wing was converted into an all-ICU isolation rooms to augment their two existing ICU units already dedicated to COVID-19 cases, Dr. Francisco B added.
The LCP is even planning to set up more facilities which includes putting up tents in their parking lot that will serve as a field hospital capable of caring for as much as 100 patients hooked on a ventilator.
The People in the War Zone
Dr. Francisco likens the pandemic at LCP as a war zone where they constantly deal with numerous challenges in front of them while ensuring everyone’s safety, security and protection.
With a total employee workforce of more than 600, there are only less than 200 active health workers who are provided with housing within the hospital or in nearby hotels.
Many prefer not to go home because of fear of transmitting the SARS-CoV 2 virus to their loved ones, or transportation issues brought about by the lockdown.
On top of this, there are around 25 active consultants and 20 fellows managing the patients.
Although each patient is given the attention and care that they need, much of their added work during this COVID-19 Incident Command System is on operations, logistics, planning, safety & security, to ensure the hospital can put up with the challenges imposed by this health crisis.
For the health care workers, their typical 8-hour shift was increased to 12 hours due to limited workforce.
Describing how they are handling the tasks at hand, Dr. Francisco said their multi-tasking work is about 5 times more than what they used to do before this health crisis.
PPE Support Still Needed
A complete set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes a mask, goggles, face shield, isolation gown, cover all, gloves, and shoe cover.
This is used by the doctors, nurses, radiology technicians, physical therapists, nursing aides or anyone having contact with the COVID-19 cases or those working in the danger zones.
While some of the PPE component items can be reused, on average, they consume around 600 isolation gowns per day.
During the crisis, there was a time when LCP was faced with a severe shortage of PPEs that could only last for a few days.
The doctors didn’t have a choice but to get from their own pockets so that they could immediately purchase the needed PPEs.
“Their contribution goes a long way in support of our country’s battle against COVID-19 to save the lives of our fellowmen.”
While they are grateful for the generosity of all donors, LCP acknowledges that support must be sustained. For them to keep up with its level of operations over the next 2 weeks, they would need about 10,000 isolation gowns.
Aside from supporting LCP, Bayer also donated PPEs and product samples to other selected hospitals in Metro Manila heavily engaged in managing COVID-19 patients. Bryan B. Rivera