September 10, 2021
High-flow nasal cannulas turned over to PGH, CGHMC
By Joy Rojas
Representatives from the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGHMC) and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) were on hand to receive the high-flow nasal cannula devices donated by volunteers of the Tzu Chi Foundation in their efforts to address each hospital’s mounting COVID-19 cases. Five units of the device were turned over to PGH while three units went to CGHMC.
Hospitals in the Philippines have been operating beyond full capacity as over 20,000 fresh COVID-19 cases are reported almost daily. Experts attribute the spike in cases to the Delta variant, the dominant variant in the country that is 10 times more contagious than other known variants.
PGH Director and neurosurgeon Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi was infected with the Delta variant himself last July—no doubt a result of overseeing the hospital that has been designated as a COVID Referral Center since March 30, 2020. “We get the worst of these cases, severe and critical,” he says.
Responding to the surge in cases, the hospital created a new emergency room as a buffer to patients entering the current ER, as well as a state-of-the-art, 42-bed COVID isolation unit. A new obstetrics admitting section was also set up, as PGH is the only hospital that accepts COVID-positive pregnant women. And a ward for children is about to be open.
“So the requirement for ventilators and high-flow nasal cannulas is unparalleled and has caused us to buy more units,” he says. “The units that you’re giving us today actually already have patients waiting for them. This assistance of the Tzu Chi Foundation is really timely.”
PGH was also the recipient of then-scarce N95 masks from Tzu Chi when the pandemic was first announced in March 2020, as well as beds for its healthcare workers. “The support of Tzu Chi Foundation is not only for our patients, but for maintaining the morale and, of course, the health of our front-liners,” he says. “I’m really grateful that the foundation has kept PGH in their list of recipients.”
At CGHMC, front-liners are just as busy tending to the huge volume of COVID patients. This includes breakthrough cases, or fully vaccinated individuals who still test positive for the coronavirus. “But they are doing well, considering, so getting vaccinated is very important,” says CGHMC Medical Director Dr. Samuel Ang. According to Dr. Ang, it’s the unvaccinated that make up the severe cases.
“The high-flow machine is very important for our patients,” he says. “With it, we don’t need ventilators anymore. A ventilator costs P4-5 million and is hardly used, except for very serious cases.”
CGHMC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Sia likewise thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for the machines, which are difficult to secure these days, given their high demand. “This machine is very important since it is needed before patients go as far as having to be intubated,” he says.
“Tzu Chi is not only famous in the Philippines but also in the whole world. Master Cheng Yen is a live Bodhisattva. Anytime there’s a calamity, Tzu Chi is the first to respond. Because of this, everyone fully supports Tzu Chi.”