By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Department of Health to tap ‘world-class’ business processing outsourcing companies to help augment the operations of the government’s centralized hospital referral system, One Hospital Command Center (OHCC), which currently is overwhelmed with calls due to the soaring COVID-19 cases in the country.
In a statement, Hontiveros cited horror stories on social media, in which some citizens said OHCC returned their call for help as late as 3 days later, after their loved one had passed away.
“An efficient and well-coordinated hospital referral system is a vital part of our response to public health emergencies. Imagine how many lives we could have saved if only we promptly answered and facilitated all these distress calls,” she said.
“Because of our world-class BPOs, when the world calls, Filipinos answer. We don’t deserve these busy lines. Ang problema kasi, yung command center that should be providing ‘coordinated care’ to patients ay mismong magulo. No one deserves to be kept hanging on the line while their lives are also on the line,” Hontiveros furthered.
She explained that BPOs, with their technological capacity, infrastructure and resources are ‘potential collaborators’ that will aid in upgrading the existing ‘basic set-up’ of the hotline to help meet the increasing number of calls being received daily.
“We are home to world-renowned BPO industries here in the Philippines. And utilizing their capabilities will pave the way for more calls getting answered, more patients being promptly referred to hospitals, more lives being saved,” she said.
Hontiveros also stressed that the command center, once upgraded, can be expanded to a ‘one-stop-shop’ for COVID emergencies that will not only facilitate patient transfers but also serve as a teleconsultation platform and a portal for remote patient monitoring. This, according to the Senator, is one way of taking care of our health workers, by helping them manage our hospitals this way.
“A one-stop shop for COVID patient concerns can remotely provide medical assistance and monitoring to individuals who are under quarantine or are being cared for by their family members,” she stated.
“Imbis na ang mga kababayan natin ang nagpapakahirap lumapit sa mga ospital, we would be making health care accessible and convenient. This will prevent patients from flocking to hospitals, thus lessening the weight our healthcare workers need to carry,” Hontiveros added.
The senator said that the one-stop-shop would play an important role in making sure patients aren’t forced to run to hospitals outside the ‘NCR+ bubble’, which she says could risk increasing COVID-19 cases in those areas.
“NCR is the epicenter of COVID-19 cases. We need to keep it that way by containing our cases as much as possible here. NCR’s hospitals are supposed to be the most equipped for an outbreak because of all the national centers located here, and yet they are overwhelmed now. How much worse would things get if we see a similar surge outside the bubble?,” she said.
“Huwag na sanang hintayin na marami pang mga tawag ang hindi masagot at ilang buhay ang hindi maisalba bago umaksyon. There’s no room for mediocrity when the lives of Filipinos are at stake. Hindi pwedeng ‘pwede na’ lalo’t libong buhay na ang nawala,” she concluded. (AI/MTVN)