Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) should serve as a “coordinated referral for all” nationwide as the country continue to grapple with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Vega, head of the OHCC and Covid-19 treatment czar, expressed hope that the budget will be included in the proposed Bayanihan 3 to fund the OHCC’s improvement of the telecommunication system and hiring of more personnel.
“So we are trying to improve on our telecommunication systems, we can hire more people and I think we can move to a better place where we can accommodate more and finally, probably, the One Hospital Command would really come up with not just helping out the population for medical direction in this pandemic, but it will, later on, be a coordinated referral for all, all over the country,” Vega said in an interview on The Chiefs in One News on April 14.
The Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, in coordination with other concerned government agencies, launched the OHCC at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) gymnasium in Makati City in August last year.
The Command Center facilitates a comprehensive and coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring effective and efficient health facility referral in Metro Manila.
“If there is a Bayanihan Part 3, that the increase in the number of personnel, augmentation, and the improvement and technology must be a part of the budget that comes along. Kasi (Because) it is very important,” Vega said.
He said Globe Telecom and PLDT/Smart Communication, the country’s two telecommunication giants, provided technical support for OHCC operation.
“When we started off, we had just —ilan lang ang aming (we just have few) lines. We just have Smart and Globe and two landlines which were free,” Vega said. “And then PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) helped us out because they have a PABX system, that’s where—we’re trying to connect with that.”
Vega said the OHCC needs to acquire its own private automatic branch exchange (PABX) to accommodate more calls that now average at least 400 calls per day.
“Actually, ang weakness talaga namin (our real weakness) is basically the sophistication of telecommunication and making sure that the public can connect to us and we can also connect to the different institution. But to do that means that we have to upgrade our systems,” Vega said.
“In other words, I need to have a PABX, I need to have a call forwarding, I have to make sure that I have enough lines open for me to connect to the different institutions and for the public to connect to us. And that’s what we’re doing right now,” he added.
In March, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reminded the public to call regional offices for quick assistance on their concerns such as the need for hospitalization to ease the overloaded lines of the One Hospital Command Center.
Vergeire also urged the public to use free services being offered by the Department of Health’s telemedicine consultation partners.
As for the local government units, incident command centers were set up to triage patients and provide immediate help, preventing emergency rooms of hospitals from getting full. (PNA)