We were all confronted with an unseen and unknown virus which no institution, no specialist, really nobody was prepared for.”
Veronica Regina P. Vergel de Dios–Garcia, administrator of the VRP Medical Center in Mandaluyong City, best summarized what all hospitals had to deal with when the COVID–19 pandemic struck the country in earnest last year.
She and the management of other hospitals had to work double time to make their hospitals safe not only for COVID–19 and non–COVID–19 patients but most especially for their healthcare workers.
Garcia was one of the speakers in the webinar titled “Hospital Best Practices in Handling COVID–19 Patients” which was held on Feb. 18. The idea for the webinar came about when hospitals, through their social media platforms, began calling on the public to return to the hospitals for their check–ups so that their medical issues could be addressed immediately.
Due to the fear of contracting COVID–19, people have been staying away from the hospitals. They were not aware of the infection control and patient safety protocols that hospitals had put in place and Philippines Graphic felt that this webinar would inform the public about the protocols that were adopted. With these protocols in place, the hospital eventually turned out to be the safest place to be in.
GOV’T, PRIVATE HOSPITALS
Those who participated as speakers in the webinar were Dr. Gerardo “Gap” D. Legaspi, Director of the Philippine General Hospital; Andres M. Licaros, Jr., President and CEO of Asian Hospital and Medical Center; Dr. Karl Evans R. Henson, Director, Hospital Infection Control and Epidemiology Center of The Medical City; Dr. Conrado Crisostomo, Medical Director, De La Salle University Medical Center and Garcia.
There was a special segment in the webinar that discussed how two government hospital continued caring for heart failure patients during the pandemic. These presentations were made by Dr. Brenda Espinosa of the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando, La Union and Dr. Roy Sasil of Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan De Oro, Misamis Oriental.
The webinar also had two other guests who served as reactors—Governor Dax E. Cua of the province of Quirino and Dr. Josephine B. Sabando, Hospital Director of the Quezon City General Hospital. Dr. Sabando also gave a short presentation of how Quezon City General Hospital coped with COVID–19 patients.
We have divided the publication of the presentations in the webinar into two parts. Part 1 will be carried in this regular issue of the Graphic and will feature Dr. Legaspi who discussed “Strategies Employed and Lessons Learned by a COVID Referral Center.” Licaros’ presentation, on the other hand, discussed Asian Hospital’s “Hospital Practices in the Next Normal.”
Part 2 will be published in a special edition of Philippines Graphic and will carry the presentations of Garcia, Drs. Henson, Crisostomo, Espinosa and Sasil. It will also feature the reactions of Gov. Cua and Dr. Sabando.
Dr. Legaspi shared many important learnings in his presentation but what probably stood out was the fact that despite the challenges and limitations that PGH faced as a COVID–19 Referral Hospital, the infection rate among their healthcare workers was very low. This was an indication that if the hospital’s health protocols are in place—even in an institution like PGH with high–risk patients—COVID infection can be brought to a minimum.
Other noteworthy learnings include the need to look out for the mental health of healthcare workers, that contact tracing is time sensitive, that targeted testing is recommended instead of mass testing and that it was time to look beyond COVID–19 and to attend to other patients who are in need of medical attention.
Licaros’ presentation revolved around the themes of abiding by the minimum health protocols being pushed by the Department of Health, taking care of one’s health and how Asian adapted to the requirements of the so–called New Normal. The hospital’s “Tagged Safe Campaign” was aimed at promoting safety protocols in all clinics and departments.
Asian also slowly transitioned from providing manual to automated and digital care. Such services include e–Concierge and an online appointment system. The pandemic also pushed the need to work collaboratively with other healthcare institutions so that they can work together to fight the COVID–19 virus.
However, Licaros stressed that the pandemic had taught the hospital’s staff to be resilient and grateful. This taught them to focus on things that matter most—our family and our health.
To attract audience participation, a contest was held where participants had to answer three questions correctly. After liking Philippine Graphic’s FB page, participants could proceed to submit their answers. Three winners received a bread toaster each.
It was noted that healthcare workers from different hospitals watched the webinar. They were probably curious to find out if their hospital was implementing the same protocols.
This was the first time that Philippines Graphic produced its own webinar using a livesteam app. In spite of the number of technical glitches all throughout the webinar, the webinar managed to maintain a respectable number of viewers. The almost four hour–webinar had 219 likes or reactions, 403 comments and 104 shares. It reached 1,632 people with 1,625 views.
The Philippines Graphic’s “Hospital Best Practices in Handling COVID–19 Patients” would not have been possible with out the invaluable support of D. Edgard A. Cabangon, Chairman of the ALC Media Group; T. Anthony C. Cabangon, Philippines Graphic/BusinessMirror Publisher; Psyche Roxas–Mendoza, Philippines Graphic Editor–in–Chief; Lourdes M. Fernandez, Businessmirror Editor–in–Chief; Christine Fajardo and Allan Millar of Navortis; Creative Director Ed Davad; Ces Cabangon; Shaira Banuevo, Graphic Artist; Social Media Team Sari Osorio, Faye Pablo, Loreine Galang, Brix Villaruel; Graphic Advertising Team led by Dennis Cruz Guevarra, Charmaine Rose Arquibel, Queenie Somoza, Leah Caling–Bonotan; Rodel Suarez and Carlo Modesto Abalos of the Events team; and colleagues Dino Datu. Maribel Avelis, Nerliza Nobleza, April Sarabia–Bornales, Emm Alquinto, Loida Virtudazo and the entire Graphic Accounting and Circulation departments.