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8 NCMH staff positive; 134 PUI

Aldrin Cardona

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Frontliners at the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), the country’s primary institution for psychiatric health, is facing a tougher battle its doctors and nurses have yet seen.

The 3,500 patients dealing with various mental and depressive mental disorders, including schizophrenia, make their common daily grind.

These are few as the NCMH has a 4,200 bed capacity, aside from the common medical issues “outside” patients — or those of non-mental health cases, like those with the common colds or cough, and even dialysis patients.

But the NCMH’s dialysis center will be closed for now.

It needs to be disinfected as the facility, as of Sunday, has 14 confirmed positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, according to a Daily Tribune source.

Virus signs manifest

The report comes a couple of days since the NCMH leadership claimed the hospital has zero COVID-19 patient.

Several sources, however, countered this as eight of the NCMH employees are among the COVID-19 positive patients, they said.

Six other individuals, all psychiatric patients, are also COVID-19 positive.

The sources likewise claimed that 134 of the more than 2,000 NCMH employees are now listed as persons under investigation (PUI) as they have been showing symptoms of the virus for days now.

“It could be anytime that one or some of them would be positive for COVID-19. That is when their tests come out,” another source relayed to Daily Tribune.

Among the psychiatric patients, 13 of them are considered PUI.

Masks run out

The NCMH had one death for COVID-19 — an outpatient who had dialysis, leading to the temporary closure of the center.

Outpatients are treated at the NCMH’s Pavilion 7.

A full staff, however, is still being demanded from the employees, including administrative teams, despite the government’s lockdown on Luzon. Many hospitals now work with a skeleton staff as public transportation was halted by the lockdown.

The employees make do with what they have to protect themselves after personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 and surgical masks, have ran out.

Even nurses and nursing attendants work wrapped in garbage and grocery bags and protected only by water containers serving as their masks. The others use motorcycle helmets in performing their tasks.

They have long appealed for PPE and support.

Before the weekend, they received 250 PPE from the Office of the Vice President.

They said they need more. PPE are disposed after one use.

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