Quezon City hospital converts chapel into COVID-19 ICU due to rise in cases

August 20, 2021 - 4:58 PM
Chapel to ICU
Patients are seen inside the chapel of Quezon City General Hospital and Medical Center (QCGHMC) on Aug. 19, 2021. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

“It has come to this.”

Scenes of COVID-19 patients being attended by healthcare workers in a chapel surfaced online as cases continuously increase amid the threat of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The Quezon City General Hospital and Medical Center (QCGHMC) converted its chapel located inside the hospital compound to a COVID-19 intensive care unit ward in response to the growing demand for beds.

According to the city government’s announcement last week, the chapel will contain 21 beds that will admit severe COVID-19 cases.

“Our COVID-19 ward and ICU has already reached its full capacity. With this extension facility, we hope to admit more COVID-19 patients who are in need of urgent and extensive treatment,” QCGHMC Director Dr. Josephine Sabando said before.

The hospital has also converted its outpatient department as a makeshift quarantine facility for healthcare workers assigned to the COVID-19 ward since the enhanced community quarantine started on August 6.

“We have also reached full capacity sa ating non-covid ward and pediatric ward. Despite these, we will still admit urgent cases like trauma cases, vehicular accidents and acute cases of stroke as well as obstetric cases. Non-urgent cases should consult first through our teleconsult services para mai-schedule kung kinakailangan nila ng face-to-face consultation,” Sabando said.

On Thursday, pictures of the converted chapel as COVID-19 ICU ward were shared by The Philippine STAR, which drew attention from the online community.

It was also shared on the Philippine section of discussion website Reddit.

“It has come to this,” a Twitter user commented in response to the images with a broken heart emoji.

“This looks like a scene from a war movie pero eto na talaga reality natin,” another online user wrote.

“This is surreal and heartbreaking,” a different user said.

Others found the move clever due to the structure of the chapel in relation to the need for good ventilation.

“Maganda palang i-convert muna ‘yung churches, ano? They have high ceilings and better ventilation siguro? If life is at stake, baka pwede disregard muna religious differences,” she wrote.

There were those who recalled Dr. Edsel Salvana’s words at the beginning of the month when he said that Metro Manila hospitals are not yet overwhelmed and that the situation is not yet similar to the one in India.

“Surge is not a form of term in epidemiology… Ginagamit ang ‘surge’ kapag na-o-overwhelm ang health care system,” he said in a House committee hearing on August 4.

“Pero at this point po, I do not think we can describe what’s going on in Manila as a surge. There is an increase in cases but the health care system can still cope,” Salvana added before.

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“Akala ko coping daw ‘yung hospitals,” internal medicine resident Jai Cabajar tweeted in response to the pictures, sarcastically referencing Salvana.

“Wala po bang surge @EdselSalvana?” another Twitter user said, tagging the infectious disease specialist in the pictures of the converted ICU ward.

As of Thursday, 72% of the ICU hospital beds in the country have been utilized for COVID-19 patients while Metro Manila’s utilization rate is at 73%.

Isolation beds in the country are 61% utilized while those in NCR are 60% utilized.

Ward beds in the country are 65% utilized while those in the metro are 67% utilized.

Meanwhile, ventilators in the country have a 53% utilization rate while those in NCR are 61% utilized.

Last month, the OCTA Research Group said that hospitals in NCR could be overwhelmed by the end of August if a hard lockdown is not implemented.