With three of its frontline workers getting hit with COVID-19 and several of its personnel being relegated to quarantine as a health safety measure, the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) on Monday announced it is temporarily suspending some of its key services starting Thursday, June 25.

Dr. Audie Cipriano, chief of the medical professional staff of the ONP, told Palawan News Sunday that the facility is presently “undermanned” as contact tracing had forced them to quarantine key personnel.

He added that the partial closure of the facility will pave way for its disinfection.

Dr. Cipriano did not indicate how many ONP personnel have been quarantined as contact tracing continued. Other sources, however, indicated there are already at least 20 nurses and other personnel who had gone on self-quarantine.

“Magsasara ang certain services ng ONP like operating room and delivery room. For such reasons na kailangan namin i-quarantine ang staff namin and decontamination ng certain areas,” he said.

The ONP will limit its admissions to “extreme emergencies” with no elective cases. Dr. Cipriano added, however, that the schedule is yet to be finalized as they have to “coordinate with other partners” to ensure medical services continuity.

“Undermanned na kami. We will coordinate with other partners. From Monday until Wednesday, functional pa,” Cipriano added.

The operating and delivery rooms would be temporarily suspended for a “minimum of three to four days” as healthcare workers would undergo quarantine pending results of their confirmatory tests.

Local transmission

The city incident management team (IMT) announced Monday morning the positive result for COVID-19 on the 3rd healthcare worker already under monitoring since the first case was reported Saturday last week.

Dr. Dean Palanca, city IMT commander, said that the patient is a female nurse who has no serious symptoms. Her result came out Sunday night from the ONP’s laboratory center.

“Kagabi nagbigay sila (ONP) sa amin ng isang results na naman. Confirmed po ito galing sa region na may isa na naman tayong confirmed case ng COVID-19 na nakuha doon sa examination na ginagawa sa ONP. Siya ay isang female na isa rin sa ating mga medical personnel — isang nurse doon na nagkaroon ng problema at nagkasakit ng COVID. Siya ay confirmed na, meron na siyang official result,” Dr. Palanca said.

“Ang kanyang status since kahapon (Sunday) ay masasabi nating wala naman siyang sakit, walang matataas na lagnat, walang ubo, walang pagtatae. Sabi nga natin, walang mga symptoms,” he added.

He said she has already been transferred to their isolation facility where she will be monitored and treated.

Examination of the swabs of personnel and staff of the hospital who had direct contact with the three positive patients is ongoing, he said.

“Yong mga pamilya nila dito sa community ay aming kinakausap na at mayroon din kaming contact tracing na ginagawa sa kanila para sila ay ma-check at ma-schedule namin kung sinu-sino ang for swab test ng gagawin ng ating IMT,” he said.

Institutional Discrimination

Dr. Cipriano also voiced out concern over the reported “discrimination” being experienced by ONP personnel from the general public.

“‘Yong iba hindi na nag-uuniform papasok or pauwi ng ospital,” Dr. Cipriano said.

Certain alleged discriminations against the ONP personnel were reported after the first “local transmission” was established, linked by a female nurse who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

Negative COVID-19 results

Meanwhile, Dr. Palanca reported that 11 out of the 12 swabs they collected from several batches of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) returnees for the confirmatory test from the ONP laboratory returned negative for the coronavirus disease.

“Out of 11 results na lumabas — sa pagkakabigay sa amin ng ating CESU (City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit), lahat naman ng 11 ay naging negative. Medyo mabuting news po ito. Isa na lang ang hinihintay naming resulta,” he said.

Dr. Palanca said the situation now calls for everyone to ensure they are healthy and to follow health protocols.

Senior citizens and children should not go out of their homes unless there are compelling reasons.

As of June 22, 9 a.m., the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in Palawan is 17 with 15 active cases. Broken down, 7 are in Puerto Princesa City, 5 in Sofronio Española, and 3 in Coron.

(With reports from Ruth Rodriguez, Romar Miranda, and Celeste Anna Formoso)