The frustrations of a contractual nurse assigned to a city government isolation facility that went viral on social media showed an honest glimpse of Puerto Princesa’s medical care capacity as it battles the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

To be fair, it was no secret when nurse Cayen narrated her struggles on her Facebook account. City health authorities have more or less admitted they were already at their wits end coping with the surge. At one point, they even considered breaking protocols of keeping suspect cases in facilities as their frontlines have already been overwhelmed by the outbreak. Nurse Cayen’s rant merely underscored it and made more people realize how desperate our situation is.

Authorities now say that while it is true they are facing difficulties, they have already hired additional nursing aids for their expanded facilities. This week, they also received pledges and commitment of support from many private doctors comprising the local medical association to assist in the city’s vaccination rollout.

Giving the private sector a bigger role in managing the pandemic is one constructive solution that can help us weather this crisis. This is the kind of dialogue and consensus that we need to solve specific day-to-day challenges.

The important takeaway here is the long-term need to strengthen the city’s medical care capacity, addressing, in particular, the lack of doctors and hospital beds to care for the sick. Right now, there remain only two doctors assigned to oversee not only persons quarantined in isolation facilities but also mild to severe patients who can no longer be accommodated in hospitals.

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There are but triage solutions to the raging surge in the city. We can only hope and pray the situation will no longer worsen further and the cases will plateau to more manageable levels.

Meanwhile, the city needs to take a long, hard look at its medical infrastructure capacity over the medium to long term – a tall order that cannot be ignored.

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