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  • Nat'l Kidney Institute Can No Longer Accept Non-COVID Emergency Cases

    Its executive director asks to relieve the hospital of the burden of catering to COVID-19 patients.
    by Kitty Elicay .
  • As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge in the country, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) announced on Monday, July 20, 2020, that it has reached full capacity and can no longer accept emergency cases, both COVID-19 and Non-Covid-19 patients.

    In an open letter, NKTI Executive Director Rosa Marie O. Rosete-Liquete, MD called for help to solve the situation. She said that while the hospital catered and provided “mass testing” to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals, they have failed to give proper attention to the “medically vulnerable” who are in need of immediate assistance to the government.

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    “For many weeks now, our COVID-19 facility has had 100% occupancy and dialysis from other centers keep flooding our already congested emergency room,” writes Dr. Rosete-Liquete. She says that patients flock NKTI for their dialysis treatment because they have nowhere to go — dialysis centers have either closed down due to nurses resigning or the depletion of funds, or the patients are being turned away because they are COVID-19 positive or are exhibiting symptoms.

    Worse, many of their healthcare workers — a total of 174 individuals — have tested positive for the virus. Most of them are nurses, nephrologists, internists, and medical technologists. “Whether the virus has come about from caring for positive patients or from the community is now moot and academic. The reality now is that our manpower is dwindling,” the executive director writes.

    She adds, “We could have threatened to close down our facility like other government offices, but we could not as almost all patients who come to the institute are dialysis patients. And a day or two of missed dialysis would mean death.”

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    NKTI appeals for help

     For now, NKTI is urging emergency patients to look for another hospital as NKTI would no longer be able to accommodate them. In her open letter, Dr. Rosete-Liquete raises ten points that can help alleviate their situation. It includes raising the bed capacity of government and private hospitals for COVID-19 patients and increasing their dialysis stations, plus encouraging the opening of free-standing dialysis centers for COVID-19 positive patients.

    “This is only feasible at this point by reimbursing them (dialysis centers) of their PhilHealth claims and advance for their services,” Dr. Rosete-Liquete writes, noting that dialysis centers have not received their reimbursements from PhilHealth for a very long time.

    The executive director also implored swabbing centers to prioritize patients on dialysis, with or without symptoms. “In most centers, dialysis patients are asked for the results of their swab, and are further required to submit two negative swabs, should they test positive, before they are taken treatment. Better still, find way to swab patients in all dialysis centers,” Dr. Rosete-Liquete says.

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    She also called to “relieve NKTI of the burden of catering to COVID-19 patients,” asking the government to “capacitate our quadrant referral centers: Jose Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the Philippine General Hospital, so they can accept not only COVID-19 positive patients but also those who are not suspects and probables, on dialysis or not.”

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    ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Remain For Next Couple Of Years’

    In her letter, Dr. Rosete-Liquete sees that the COVID-19 pandemic will probably remain for [the] next one or two years. “We, the NKTI, your specialty transplant center, cannot be a breeding ground of the virus for the same period,” she laments. “Our census for transplant has precipitously dropped, which means less and less of our patients can go back to the normal stream of life; less and less of the Filipinos shall become healthy in the years to come. This threat must be stopped.”

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    The executive director also notes that their employees deserve more — “our healthcare workers deserve quarantine breaks, a livable accommodation, transportation, and more realistic allowances commensurate to their unconditional service.”

    She adds, “It should not be given like an incentive because they actually deserve more than that; their service to humanity is immeasurable.”

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    Finally, Dr. Rosete-Liquete says the country is finding it hard to “eradicate this pandemic” because of poverty and overpopulation. She also offers a suggestion on how we can address it.

    “A lot of our communities are just too densely populated for the measures to infiltrate the masses. Moving forward, we should strengthen our programs and policies targeting these causes to avoid the harrowing effects of pandemics brought by COVID-19 and other possible viruses in the future.”

    NKTI is not the only hospital to declare they are full. Five more hospitals in the metro, including St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City and Taguig, the Makati Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Santa Mesa, and Chinese General Hospital have previously said that they can no longer admit COVID-19 patients after reaching full capacity.

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    According to the Department of Health, community transmission is the cause of rising COVID-19 cases. Click here to read more.

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