NMMC hosts 1 in 4 Covid-19 patients in NorMin

Dr. Gina Intchon, Northern Mindanao Medical Center research, and development chief, explains the hospital’s Covid-19 data. This was during her first appearance at Cagayan de Oro City’s daily pandemic update on Friday, July 24, 2020. (Photo courtesy of City Information Office)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: One out of four coronavirus disease patients in Region 10 are admitted to the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), indicating most of the cases in the area were either mild or asymptomatic.

This was the assessment of Dr. Gina Itchon, NMMC research and development chief,  who on Friday said the hospital’s data are based on the figures reported since March, and during which the hospital began testing swab samples through the GeneXpert laboratory in May.

As the primary referral medical facility for Region 10 for mild and severe Covid-19 cases, Itchon said NMMC’s admission data consistent with national trends showing the dominance of mild and asymptomatic cases.

Between January to July 23, NMMC recorded a cumulative total of 465 admissions: 411 patients tested negative, 30 tested positive for Covid-19, and 24 were suspected.

As of Friday, NMMC only had two Covid-19 patients.

National data reported by the Department of Health (DOH) as of July 23 showed that of 48,136 active cases, about 90.1 percent of the patients experienced mild symptoms, and 9 percent were asymptomatic.

Meanwhile, NMMC officials underscored the impact of the city government’s containment measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions on the ability of local medical facilities to cater to confirmed and suspect Covid-19 cases.

“Before the quarantine, before we acquired testing machines, sometime in March we made calculations on what would constitute a surge of cases for NMMC and we came out with the number 209. Meaning, if 209 suspected Covid-19 patients were admitted to NMMC every day, we would surely be overwhelmed,” Itchon said.

NMMC liaison officer, Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha, said the city’s containment measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions such as household surveillance and aggressive contact tracing enabled NMMC to “buy time” to install testing facilities and expand bed capacity.

“Thanks to Cagayan de Oro City Hall and other local governments that set up their isolation units, they bought time for NMMC to analyze the data and make the crucial preparations to bolster its capacity to handle Covid-19 cases. There may be a surge of cases (from arrivals) but so far it has been manageable,” Rocha said.

By buying “extra lead time” for NMMC, Itchon and Rocha said they managed to get a clearer picture of the Covid-19 situation in the city and Northern Mindanao region, including how most Covid-19 cases are mild to moderate and that Covid-19 patients died because of their comorbidities or underlying illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

City Health Office (CHO) resident epidemiologist, Dr. Teodulfo Joselito Retuya, said the local government has retained its contact tracing and household surveillance as a preemptive measure for early detection, testing, and isolation of suspected Covid-19 cases.

“Rather than being passive, we actively seek out our city residents and interview them on their conditions,” Retuya said. 

(Nef Luczon/PNA/SRNY/RSP)

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