Respond to front-liners’ urgent need for PPEs

Respond to front-liners’ urgent need for PPEs

The front-liners in the hospitals are appealing for donations of medical supplies, especially PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment and Hazmat suits (similar to what astronauts wear). These are badly needed by doctors who treat the patients, anesthesiologists who intubate patients, nurses who take care of the patients, med techs who handle the specimen, radio technicians who do regular x-rays, medical aides who assist the medical team, housekeeping staff who handle discharges, cleaning and sanitation, and other allied health workers who have daily close encounter with COVID-19 patients.

With the enormous increase of COVID-19 positive, Pres. Duterte declared an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) of entire Luzon. There is strict home quarantine; suspended operation of public transportation; regulated provision for food and essential health services; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel.

As of March 29, there are 1,418 COVID-19 positive, 343 new cases, 42 recovered, 71 deaths, two of whom were two doctors, Dr. Francisco Lukban, cardiologist at Capitol Medical Center, and Dr. Helen Tudtud, pathologist from Cebu City. They joined those who passed on earlier: Dr. Israel Bactol, cardiologist at Philippine Heart Center; Dr. Rose Pulido, oncologist at San Juan de Dios Hospital; Dr. Greg Macasaet III, anesthesiologist at Manila Doctors Hospital; Dr. Raul Jara, cardiologist at Philippine Heart Center; Dr. Henry Fernandez of Pangasinan Medical Society; Dr. Marcelo Jaochico of Pampanga Provincial Health Center; Dr. Raquel Seva, OB-Gyne in Laguna; Dr. Hector Alvarez of Novaliches District Hospital; Dr. Sally Gatchalian, pediatrician and President of the Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc. May your soul rest in peace. Thank you for offering your lives to save the lives of COVID-19 patients. Rest in peace and God bless! Almost 16% of death toll are doctors. They were contaminated either due to lack of PPEs or non-disclosure by the patient about their travel abroad.

Philippine Medical Association President Jose Santiago stated that the Philippines has many doctors but it lacks PPEs and other medical supplies – hazmat suits, N95 masks, latex gloves and other medical supplies. They are needed to protect the front-liners from COVID-19. It is a MUST that they wear protective gear. NO PPE, NO DUTY, for the protection of both the front-liners and the patients, lest, they be contaminated and infected. Sending front-liners to  COVID-19 ZONE without the proper PPEs and hazmat suit is like sending soldiers to war without weapons, a suicidal act.

 

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For the millions of dollars/pesos-worth of donated PPEs, test kits and medical supplies, we thank Singapore, South Korea and China, local business companies like SM Group, Gokongwei Group, San Miguel, Ayala Group, Concepcion Industries, other businessmen and kind-hearted individuals who immediately responded to the appeal of front-liners from hospitals. Thank you for sharing your time, talent and treasure during this pandemic. Other service providers give them free or preferential services. Unlike what happened to a nurse who discriminated upon, beaten by 5 persons who threw clorox or bleach on his face which may damage his eyes.

 The donated PPEs, test kits and medical supplies are now at the Bureau of Customs and DOH but both agencies have not yet released them to the hospitals. Health Sec. Francisco Duque III asks that all donated medical supplies be brought to DOH and requires hospitals to submit written letter request with the list of requested items. With this pandemic, red tape should be avoided, which Pres. Duterte himself stated. We suggest that hospital request be coursed through emails. Once received, DOH should immediately task the Philippine Army, which should be on stand-by at DOH, to immediately deliver the medical items to the hospitals. With the DOH bureaucratic requirement, we will continue to lose front-liners in the hospitals.

 

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We appeal to future donors of PPEs and medical supplies, please give your donations directly to the hospitals, our front-liners urgently need those PPEs. Do not course them through DOH because of its red tape. Please do so for the sake of our front-liners and COVID-19 patients. We already lost 11 doctors. It is a matter of life and death both of the medical teams and the patients. Time is of the essence. We are already losing many medical experts—cardiologists, anesthesiologists, internists. What if we lose all of them?

I do not want to let this pass. I was so shocked to learn that our government hospitals procured substandard PPEs; the front-liners I talked to said “ok  na po ang substandard PPEs kaysa wala” (Substandard PPEs are ok, rather than no PPEs at all), another corrupt practice discovered; but we will discuss this in normal times, when this pandemic is over.

 

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The Church never stops giving aids even during lockdown. Many dioceses distribute rice and groceries to those badly affected by ECQ, like tricycle and jeepney drivers, construction workers and those under No Work, No Pay job. The Diocese of Kalookan distributed rice and groceries to the parishes to be given to parishioners in need. Voucher from Caritas Manila and Caritas Kalookan are also distributed to those in the peripheries of society. Feeding continues.

Online Masses and Lenten Recollections can be viewed through the effort of Social Communications Ministry of every parish. Some parishes brought out the Blessed Sacrament and blessed every houses and buildings along the way.

 

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Our hospitals are full, they can no longer accommodate patients. The best is stay at home. In so doing, we do not only help contain COVID-19 but we also help our front-liners who are already exhausted and dwindling. After the incubation period of 14 to 21 days, symptoms begin to manifest and infestation prevalent, a dangerous period. It is now Day 14 from the time quarantine started. Do not go out or you risk your life and that of the elderly in your family. Our God is so merciful. Let us pray for the immediate eradication of Covid-19 and for the scientists and experts to discover antidotes, medicines and vaccines. Let us pray that the front-liners be shielded from COVID-19 and for the patients to be cured. Let us pray for courage of the families of the front-liners, patients and those who died. Eternal rest be granted unto those who died fighting the unseen enemy. God bless us all!

 Let us not be another totally irresponsible Sen. Koko Pimentel, a PUI or person under investigation, who arrogantly roamed around, contaminated every person he met including the medical personnel in a hospital, violated the law that he passed as a legislator, knowing that the penalty is imprisonment and fine and as public official, he can be disqualified from office. A person who violates curfew hours are arrested, detained and fined. The law must be enforced equally, irrespective of status in life. He must face the full force of the law. Nobody is above the law. Dura lex, sed lex. The law is hard, but that is the law.