Private hospitals warned of difficulties in dealing with a surge in Covid-19 cases, especially with the threat of the highly transmissible Delta variant, amid a shortage of nurses and bed capacity.

Dr. Jose Reno de Grano, president of the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines, Inc., said on July 19 that private hospitals would need more nursing staff if there would be an increase in moderate, severe, and critical cases of Covid-19.

“Actually no’ng nagkaroon ng surge no’ng April, after that ang dami na rin pong ulit na nag-resign at lumipat na mga nursing staff ng mga private hospital kaya lalo pong umonti ang bed capacity no’ng ibang hospitals. At ‘yong iba namang pong hospitals na talagang kokonti ang mga nursing staff, nag-downsize na sila,” he explained in a televised government briefing.

(A lot of nursing staff from private hospitals have resigned and moved to other hospitals after the surge last April, that’s why the bed capacity of other hospitals has decreased. Other hospitals that have fewer nursing staff also downsized their bed capacity.)

In April, the Philippines breached the 1-million-mark of Covid-19 cases while Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) along with the City of Santiago, Quirino, and Abra.

The supply for oxygen, ventilators, and high flow ventilators were still adequate, but an increase in cases would overwhelm intensive care units (ICUs) of private hospitals, the doctor said.

“Ang mga ICU facilities ng mga private hospitals, hindi naman po ‘yon basta nai-expand. Bago po tayo magkapag-expand ng ICU facilities ng isang private hospital, napakalaking gastos po ‘yon. It will need additional equipment, space, [and] highly trained nurses and doctors,” the doctor said.

(The ICU facilities of private hospitals cannot be expanded instantly. The expansion is costly. It will need additional equipment, space, [and] highly trained nurses and doctors.)

He said 20 percent of the bed capacity of private hospitals was already allocated to Covid-19 patients, and it could be increased to 30 percent if there would be a surge. Jelo Ritzhie Mantaring