New DOH guidelines may increase admissions for COVID-19 monitoring

Apr. 14, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) anticipates an increase in admission of patients after the Department of Health (DOH) issued a new classification system of persons being checked for coronavirus (COVID-19).

The DOH issued Administrative Order 2020-0013 on April 9 prioritizing early detection and laboratory confirmation, especially on high risk and vulnerable populations due to local and community transmissions.

Another guideline issued by the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Disease approved by the DOH said all persons with a severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) or influenza-like illness (ILI) are to be considered probable or suspect of COVID-19 infection.

The changes also adopt provisions from the World Health Organization interim guideline on global surveillance for COVID-19 on March 20 which classifies cases as suspect, probable and confirmed.

SPMC Chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega explained in a virtual press briefing on Monday how these changes will impact the SPMC.

“More patients will be referred to SPMC to find out if they are a suspect or probable of COVID-19 especially if one shows symptoms of SARI and ILI. The bottom line is to admit these patients making sure if they have the virus or not,” Vega said.

The SPMC is the main referral hospital for COVID-19 cases in the region, and currently houses 13 COVID-19 positive cases while 79 are waiting for tests.

The SPMC head also expects more children to be admitted for tests based on the guidelines.

“Because of the guidelines issued by the Philippine Pediatric Society that children with fever, cough, and diarrhea are all probable and suspect of COVID,” Vega said.

Vega said that with the expected rise in admissions, SPMC has to allocate more human resources and PPE to concentrate on COVID-19.

The SPMC has collapsed its other services except for its centers for heart, cancer, and psychiatry cases and birthing facilities which are located in other buildings.

Vega, however, said they may have to transfer non-COVID-19 patients because of the expected rise of admissions.

“We cannot handle COVID and non-COVID patients in our main institution,” Vega said.

The SPMC is in the process of creating an agreement with private hospitals to accommodate indigent patients with trauma and emergency cases with no balance billing.(

comments powered by Disqus