CEBU CITY – The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) on Thursday launched a teleconsulting platform where Cebu residents can seek medical advice from home.
Through the platform, dubbed as the Cebu Covid-19 TeleGaBai, the hospital aims to lessen admissions and decongest emergency rooms amid a rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
In a statement, Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr., VSMMC medical chief, said the hospital will always lead in providing the public quality, accessible and responsive healthcare services through the virtual platform.
“This is true to our commitment and brand for a shared identity. We are here for you and you are here for us. We shall fight this unseen enemy, together! To address the medical needs of our patients in these challenging times, VSMMC launches Cebu TeleGaBai,” Aquino said.
Under this platform, the public can consult physicians by calling the TeleGaBai hotline numbers 0960-929-2606, 0960-929-2607, 0960-929-2608, and 0960-929-2609 or send a message through the Cebu Covid-19 TeleGaBAI official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cebutelegaBAI).
Aquino said patients can ask for assistance from medical experts through the program which provides a venue for licensed doctors to guide and advise patients and their families in managing infections at home.
“(There is) no need for patients to physically visit the city hospitals or clinics for they can seek consult or medical advice anytime through TeleGaBai,” Aquino said.
The VSMMC initiated the 24/7 teleconsultation program to help decongest the Cebu emergency rooms and hospitals from Covid-19 patients who are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
It was patterned after the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Covid TeleGabay Program, which was launched in March this year.
In Cebu, the program integrates healthcare services delivery by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Emergency Operation Center (EOC) of the local government units in Cebu, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 and with the support of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).
Dr. Helen Madamba, chief of the VSMMC's Professional and Allied Health Services, said the "lines to vacancies for hospital admission are long and patients need to know how to temporize while waiting."
Madamba said since they launched the program, they now have 250 volunteers including doctors, post-graduate medical interns (PGIs), allied health professionals, and non-medical volunteers.
This service is in partnership with the Philippine College of Physicians, Cebu Medical Society, and other local medical societies.
"There is no honorarium and each volunteer has to provide his/her own cellphone, sim, and load to call the patients to respond to questions, for teleconsultation, daily monitoring,” she said.
Volunteers will go onboard from four to 12 hours a day, depending on their availability, the statement said.
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino lauded the said initiative, expressing support from the national government through President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go for their compassion towards Cebuanos.
“We need this kind of bayanihan, especially in these trying times. Hopefully, the public will utilize this program so as not to overwhelm our hospitals in Cebu,” Dino said.
He also urged the other regions to activate their own TeleGabay to help the public with the threat of the different variants of Covid-19.