On May 23, 2021, Sunday, the Bicol Medical Center – Department of Psychiatry in Brgy. Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur was placed on total lockdown after 15 patients, and a healthcare worker tested positive for Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
After two weeks, Dr. Jose Manuel Rañola III, head of the Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious disease, says all patients recovered from “mild” COVID-19.
”All of the 15 patients and staff experienced mild symptoms of COVID-19. Now, they have fully recovered.” Dr. Rañola said.
Dr. Rañola added, two weeks before the spread of the infection in the mental facility, these psychiatric patients had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Patients and staff of the BMC – Department of Psychiatry had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last May 10-13, 2021.
Amid the facility lockdown, BMC healthcare staff remain hopeful
Sunta Panoy is a registered nurse who's been serving at the BMC – Psychiatry since 2017. She is one of the healthcare staff who stayed in the lockdown facility to continue her duty despite the threats of the Coronavirus disease. Panoy says they have a dedicated area for their COVID-19 positive, which they call the “hot zone.” To minimize their exposure in the hot zone, she shares how they had to adjust their schedule.
“If morning duty kami, malaog kami sa hot zone wearing the protective cover-all by lunch time to give their food and medication. Then, pag dinner time, malaog ulit kami sa hot zone to give their food at ang medicine ninda, as well as check their vital signs. Then, ma endorse na po sa night duty.” Panoy said.
(If we are on morning duty, we will go to the hot zone wearing the protective cover-all (personal protective equipment) by lunchtime to give their (COVID-19 patients) food and medication. By dinner time, we will enter the hot zone again. Aside from giving the patients food and medicine, we will check their vital signs before endorsing them to the night duty staff.)
Nurse Sunta Panoy was one of the healthcare staff of the BMC – Department of Psychiatry who stayed in the lockdown facility to continue her duty despite the threats of the Coronavirus disease.
“Pag night duty naman po, malaog sa hot zone around 530am to give their TB meds, Salabat drink, do morning care (bibigyan sila ng hygiene kits for them to take a bath na, kukunin ang mga damit na ginamit nila, bibigyan ng bagong damit, mapalit ng bed sheet), then will give breakfast at morning medicines nila.”
(Meanwhile, the night duty staff will enter the hot zone around 5:30 am. (As some patients have Tuberculosis). We will give them their Tuberculosis medicine, salabat (ginger tea) and assist them in their morning care. First, we give them their hygiene kits. After that, we will get their used clothes and replace them with clean garments and bedsheets; then, we will provide their breakfast and morning medicine.)
Panoy added, as the lockdown continues, they were concerned, given the psychiatric condition of their COVID-19 patients.
“They cannot tell us kung ano makulog ninda.”
(They cannot tell us what pain they feel.)
Despite the difficulty, Panoy writes in her social media post how they remained hopeful during the challenging lockdown.
"God has a purpose and plan in every situation that we are experiencing in this pandemic. Yes! We have doubts, worries, and fears along the way. But let us not forget that our God is gracious, loving, and Sovereign above all. May we fix our eyes on Jesus in this battle and see His goodness and how He is teaching and molding us to become the person he wants us to be. Trust the process because we are all a work in progress."
Several stress debriefing sessions were done during the lockdown to ease the anxiety and fatigue of the staff.
Stress debriefing sessions were conducted with the mental facility staff to ease their anxieties and boost their morale during the lockdown.
With the recovery of the patients and staff, Assistant Administrator – Designate Ma. Theresa Galvan of the BMC – Department of Psychiatry said in a press conference last Tuesday (June 8, 2021) that the lockdown will be lifted on June 14.