Shadow

Desperate times

Group chats are abuzz with what’s going on in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in so far as the rise of COVID-19 cases is concerned.

This is one topic I do not like discussing as we have lost a brother and several friends to this pandemic, the most recent of which are media colleagues, Rushmore Ubas and Jerome Galunan.

But we can’t help talking about the state we are in, as each day, someone is asking for help to facilitate a family member or friend in desperate need of hospitalization as patients are being turned away in most of our medical facilities that are filled to the brim.

A source told me that the city government has asked the Department of Health to provide them with oxygen concentrators and ventilators. Even the provincial government said they had to source out oxygen as their plant cannot answer the need.

They said the Delta variant is the culprit for the rising cases and we have nine new cases in Bacolod and eight in the province which were identified recently but which tested positive last month yet. Between their positive state and their test results, who knows how many they’ve infected.

One case in Bacolod that spread to 10 others came from a government APOR as this sector is not required to submit a negative RT-PCR test when they cross borders. This is the reason why City Administrator Em Ang said that they are willing to administer rapid antigen tests at no cost to government APORs, to at least catch the carrier before he or she can spread it further.

I thought we are over the worst when we started opening up. But when the LGU seeks for oxygen and ventilators, this means we must brace for bad times as we are not just talking of more quarantine centers but a probably collapse of the health care system.

Not to mention the fact that many frontliners are getting infected as well and the call to give them booster shots must not be debated anymore but must be administered immediately as they are the most exposed.

When the emergency center at the CLMMRH closes its doors, albeit temporarily, because of patients waiting for beds, that is a cause for concern especially for Bacolod who does not have its own hospital.

This issue of not prioritizing a hospital will haunt Mayor Bing Leonardia’s bid for reelection as we’ve been in this pandemic state for close to two years already.

Councilor Al Victor Espino who left the mayor’s party said he was told by the mayor to keep the health facility plan under wraps even when this was passed in 2019, just before the outbreak, as the coliseum is deemed a priority under this administration.

The provincial government cannot extend that much help to Bacolod because they are even opening up more health facilities as COVID centers for the rising numbers in the province as well. Besides, from the get-go, Bacolod seems to like acting on its own and is now alone in facing this problem.

I had my outpatient minor surgical procedure done last Monday in a private clinic here in Bacolod. I went there late when very few patients were around as I am paranoid as hell. But on that day alone, two patients were fetched by ambulances as their oxygen saturation was in the 70s level. The following day, my surgeon told me that he will take a break from the clinic for a week as two more patients needed critical care.

If we look at the cases, majority of those who need hospitalization and are severely affected are unvaccinated. There are two cases of critical care patients who are fervent users of Ivermectin and were not believers of vaccines. Thankfully, they recovered.

Getting vaccinated is a choice and I have a lot of friends who do not believe in it. But I laud the province and Bacolod for their continued vaccination program as I believe it is still the best solution to get out of this state.

But we are not the only ones facing that grim situation. All over Panay, hospitals are on “timeout” as they too do not have beds nor personnel to take care of more patients.

It is even worse in General Santos City where nurses were asked to wear adult diapers in a 12-hour shift to cut down on PPE costs. It’s not just humiliating but sheer oppression to force your nurses to wear diapers so they don’t get toilet breaks and change their PPEs.

It’s a good thing we still have civic organizations here that provide the much-needed medical supplies, including PPEs to hospitals. Last week, our Rotary clubs here donated thousands of PPEs in Bacolod, including at the CLMMRH and in Victorias City.

It’s too late to call on our LGUs to prioritize supplies and health facilities now as these should have been done last year yet. With elections just around the bend, if I hear current officials, especially here in Bacolod that this is going to be their priority program, I swear I will not hesitate to send them an effin dirty finger.*

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