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PH gov’t launches Covid-19 command center to monitor hospital capacity

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To maximize the availability of hospital beds reserved for those infected with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the government launched the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) located at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) headquarters gymnasium in Guadalupe, Makati City on August 6, 2020.

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the OHCC will serve as the coordination center for providing services to Covid-19 patients, including hospital transfers, referrals, and to provide communications and medical directions between hospitals.

Vega said the OHCC will involve MMDA responders who will work closely with the DOH’s Covid-19 hotline, which handles calls on Covid-19 patients’ concerns.

“The MMDA responders will connect with the different incident commanders of different hospitals whether they can actually accept patients that would need intensive care treatment or if they are full,” Vega said.

Vega said ambulances can also be dispatched from the nearest hospital, local government, or other government agencies like the Bureau of Fire Protection through coordination provided by the OHCC.

Vega said the OHCC would also serve as the base on expanding the capacity of hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

“We are also here for strengthening capacity. And strengthening capacity would mean we need to identify ready hospitals that can accommodate intensive care or rooms for moderate cases,” Vega said.

Vega cited the new building at the East Avenue Medical Center, set to be inaugurated as the “main integrated facility for Covid-19” on August 17, as an example of the government’s plan to expand the capacity of existing hospitals.

“We are also strengthening capacity by putting up modular hospitals. And one of the identified modular hospitals that can serve moderate and severe cases is at [Quezon Institute]. But this is going to be an extension facility of Jose Reyes Memorial hospital because it can never be standalone,” Vega said.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said the government originally had two coordinating centers for Covid-19—one located at Camp Aguinaldo and another managed by the DOH.

“Meron na tayo talagang nabuo na command center and also yung DOH meron din sila. Ang ginawa lang natin, instead na meron magkahiwalay na command center ang DOH at saka yung NTF, binuo na lang natin na isang command (We had a command center and DOH had their own. What we did is, instead of having separate command centers, we merged them into one),” Galvez said.

Aside from unifying the two separate coordinating centers, he said the space provided by the MMDA will allow for further expansion of the OHCC.

“Sa ngayon lang, masyadong nag-expand na, nakikita natin hindi lang Metro Manila, hanggang Region 3 and Region 4A. At the same time, pwede i-expand up to [the rest of] Luzon and Visayas (For now, we have already expanded, we can see not only Metro Manila but also Region 3 and Region 4A. At the same time, we can expand to the rest of Luzon and Visayas),” Galvez said. (PNA)

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