Iloilo City’s healthcare utilization rate still high; Defensor admits dependence on city hospitals

PHOTO CAPTION: Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor, Jr. admits that the province is a bigger part of the reason why the healthcare utilization rate of Iloilo City remains high despite a significant drop in the city’s active cases count the last several weeks. (N. Glenn Aragon/Photo courtesy of the Philippine News Agency)

ILOILO–The healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) in the city of Iloilo remains high as of August 8, the reason this southern city is still under the Enhanced Community Quarantine until the middle of this month.

Based on a situational report of the Department of Health (DOH) this morning, Iloilo City has an HCUR of 70.41%, only a slight improvement in the city’s HCUR of 71.38% calculated last August 5.

Looking at the numbers, there is a 0.97% decline in HCUR in the last three days, but this is still considered insignificant; Iloilo City is still classified “in critical risk” due to the high utilization rate of its COVID ward beds as well as intensive care unit (ICU) beds.

Ninety-five out of a total 105 COVID ward beds are presently occupied, translating to an 88.79% capacity, while 132 of 150 ICU beds, or 88%, are taken.

As a whole, however, the entire Western Visayas region’s HCUR is classified as low risk.

An area’s HCUR is only one among several factors considered by the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) in giving out periodic community quarantine status to a province or highly-urbanized city.

‘STILL NO AUTONOMY’

Meanwhile, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor, Jr. admits that Iloilo Province is still dependent on Iloilo City when it comes to healthcare provision for COVID-19 patients, adding that a good number of patients on ICU in hospitals in the city are from the province.

“Wala pa gid nalutas ang probinsya sa Iloilo City [The province is yet to be fully weaned from the city],” the provincial chief executive acknowledged.

He said that since the birth of the Local Government Code of 1991 that paved the way for Iloilo City to become the highly urbanized city it is now, the province is yet to gain autonomy from the city.

“Amo na ang relasyon ‘ta. Isa na dira sa konsekwensya, amo ni nga dependent ang mga taga-probinsya—even Aklan, Antique and Capiz—sa mga tertiary hospitals sa ciudad [That is our relationship with the city. One of the consequences is that we from the province—even Aklan, Antique, and Capiz—are dependent on the tertiary hospitals in the city],” he further quipped.

“Ang tertiary hospital nga naandan sang probinsya, kag syudad man, amo ang Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) nga not so long ago, amo na siya ang Iloilo Provincial Hospital. Amo na nga may dependence ang province dira [The tertiary hospital that we are used to in the province, even the city, is the Western Visayas Medical Center, which not so long ago was called the Iloilo Provincial Hospital. That is why the province has a bit of dependence there],” Defensor averred.

According to the Iloilo governor, the tertiary hospitals in the province are not yet fully developed. “It’s not really viable sa isa ka daku nga ospital nga private nga magpatindog abi sang amo na nga klase nga ospital, healthcare business, sa probinsya. [It’s not really viable for a big private hospital to build that kind of hospital, that healthcare business, in the province.] That is why the dependence is there,” Defensor concluded.

COVID-19 BURIAL SITES

In related news, there is now an urgency for local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo to find and prepare fitting, if not dedicated, burial grounds for their constituents who have died from complications of COVID-19 especially since the province is seeing a record number of coronavirus fatalities recently.

DILG Provincial Director Teodora Sumagaysay/iNEWS (Photo courtesy of Bert Ladera/SIA)

In Western Visayas, Iloilo Province has the most active COVID-19 cases at 2,834 as well as the highest number of deaths from the disease at 484. In the past week alone, or from August 2 to August 8, it logged 56 fatalities, easily trouncing the 41 fatalities it scored the previous week and setting the new record for the most number of deaths in a province/highly-urbanized city in a week since early last year.

In addition, the province had 1,016 new active cases for the week, its second time in three weeks breaching the thousand-case mark, although recoveries in the same period were also high at 1,113.

“None of the LGUs have presented their recommendations for burial sites to us,” said Provincial Director Teodora Sumagaysay of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Iloilo.

However, she added, public cemeteries in the province can be used as ground burial sites of COVID-19 fatalities for as long as the graveyards are not within a 25-meter radius from residential areas and are far from any water source.

Oton and Pototan are two of the municipalities in Iloilo that are known to conduct ground burials of fatalities from COVID-19 since last year. (N. Glenn Aragon/iNEWS)

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