HIRING NURSES. Screenshot shows DOH-7 regional director Dr. Jaime Bernadas briefing the Cebu media on the Covid-19 situation in Central Visayas using the virtual platform, on Monday (Aug. 2, 2021). Bernadas issued an appeal to nurses to respond to the call to serve as hospitals in the region are increasing their bed capacity intended for Covid-19 patients. (PNA photo by John Rey Saavedra)   

CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas on Monday appealed to nurses to respond to the call to serve in hospitals amid a new surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the region.

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH-7 regional director, in a press briefing, said they have sought the help of the Philippine Nurses Association to help them recruit more nurses and asked the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) to fast-track the oath-taking of new passers of the nursing board.

Bernadas said the health agency is speeding up the hiring of nurses to augment the 760 who were deployed to different private hospitals in the region last week.

The recent Covid-19 spike in Central Visayas has prompted the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to place Cebu province and the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu under modified enhanced community quarantine.

On Monday, however, the IATF granted Cebu province’s appeal for a scaling down of its restriction to general community quarantine.

“I give our appeal to our nurses especially those who recently passed the board exam… Please respond at this time that we need you. This is what you are trying to prepare. Do your part at this trying times and to shine, to labor, and to sacrifice,” Bernadas said.

Hospitals in Cebu, he said, need some 500 more nurses after responding to their call to increase their bed capacity and intensive care units (ICU) for Covid-19 patients.

Tapping “underboard nurses” and even those who have not graduated yet is in the pipeline, but Bernadas said the DOH is still optimistic that more nurses will come out and serve.

The DOH-7 is also planning to move out nurses from vaccination centers and deploy them instead to hospitals, to be replaced with underboard healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, Bernadas advised local government units (LGU) in Cebu province to strengthen their barangay health centers’ referral system for influenza-like illnesses to avoid clogging city hospitals.

“We have to remind your barangays to be vigilant. They have to report symptomatic patients then isolate, test, and monitor them while in isolation. Once they know the severity of the symptoms, they must be guided through the referral system to determine if the patients need to be transferred to level 1, 2, or 3 hospital,” he said.

His remarks came after social media posts showed patients staying outside a private hospital here, with some of them are already using oxygen while inside the cars.

The DOH-7 chief was referring to the One Command Center established by the agency, along with the Hotline 711, to streamline referral of Covid-19 patients from the barangay health centers or LGU infirmaries up to the public or private hospitals.

He commended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s instruction to four provincial hospitals in Balamban, Carcar City, Danao City and Bogo City to increase their bed capacity for Covid-19, stressing that such action may avert referral of provincial patients to the city hospitals.

Bernadas, however, said despite the rising number of active Covid-19 infections, the critical care utilization rate is improving, as manifested by the increase in beds at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and private hospitals.

The DOH-7 latest bulletin showed that Central Visayas now has a total of 11,103 active Covid-19 cases, with Cebu province registering most of the infections at 3,037 while the neighboring province of Bohol has 1,832; Negros Oriental, 1,058; and 31 in Siquior.

Cebu City registered most of the coronavirus cases in Metro Cebu at 2,942, followed by Lapu-Lapu City with 1,185 and Mandaue City with 1,018. (With report from Carlo Lorenciana/PNA)