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Hospital bed shortage sparks outrage in Philippines

Catholics call for action after patients are pictured sleeping outside a hospital building

Hospital bed shortage sparks outrage in Philippines

Patients are seen lying on the ground at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Manila. (Photo supplied)

Catholics in the Philippine capital Manila have called on the country’s Health Department to ensure proper and humanitarian treatment for the sick after photos appeared online showing patients lying on the ground outside a hospital building.

Crispin Reyes and other parishioners from Saint Peter’s Shrine in Quezon City expressed their anger in a letter to Health Department chief Francisco Duque to demand better treatment for patients at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

“The photos we saw were heartbreaking and painful to see,” the letter said.

They were circulated online to illustrate the shortage of hospital beds in the Philippine capital due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

“We see the pitiful condition of our Filipino brothers and sisters who are sick. They sleep in the open while receiving treatment. Some are even in wheelchairs. This is too much,” the letter went on to say.

The hospital’s administrators admitted they too had seen the photos and had written a report to health authorities to explain the situation.

There are no hospital beds and we were not sure when any would become available

The administrators said they gave the patients wheelchairs but their relatives insisted on letting them lie on the ground.

“We are already full to capacity. We saw the pictures too and investigated. Relatives kept on insisting that they lie down. All patients are provided wheelchairs and stretchers,” hospital manager Michael Jaro said.

The relatives said the patients were in pain and discomfort, so they begged to lie down.

“We improvised by looking for cartons. We had no choice. There are no hospital beds and we were not sure when any would become available. My brother was in pain, so he asked me if he could lie on the ground,” said one relative who wished to remain anonymous.

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Jaro said the hospital was struggling to cope with Covid and asked for understanding.

“We are doing our best as healthcare workers but even our efforts are limited by our facilities. We cannot accommodate patients if we do not have enough room and hospital beds,” Jaro added.

On April 18, a field hospital set up at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University started accepting Covid patients to “hopefully ease” the hospital bed shortage in Manila.

“The facility is intended to help control the spread of the virus among other family members of Covid-19 positive patients,” Ateneo president and Jesuit Father Bobby Yap said on April 18.

Reyes and his group urged other Catholic schools in Manila to turn their campuses into Covid field hospitals like the one at Ateneo.

As of April 22, the Philippines had recorded 971,049 Covid-19 cases with 16,370 deaths.

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