Balik Scientist Dr. Adrian Buensalido shares insights on management of COVID-19 in a hospital setting

Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Awardee, Dr. Adrian Joseph Buensalido is one of the many inspiring doctors serving as a frontline worker in the country’s battle against COVID-19. As an infectious disease and internal medicine specialist, he shared how he and his team manages the fight against the pandemic.

The risk of getting COVID-19 is there every single moment of the day because our PPEs are not fool-proof. One small mistake and you can contaminate yourself. The fear is there, but you don’t dwell on it. You use an ounce of fear as fuel to keep your actions precise to prevent any misstep or contamination.”

Dr. Buensalido revealed that teamwork is what improves their day to day operations. He disclosed that doctors who have different specialties have volunteered to help the infectious disease specialists, pulmonologists, and critical care specialists to ease the burden.  

The Balik Scientist recalled that one of his memorable experiences inside the hospital is when they took over an entire infectious disease load of one hospital between him and another colleague. “We were just constantly working and fighting illness continuously from 7am to 10-11pm at night, sleeping then waking up to fight again.  Fighting and not allowing defeat until the reinforcements came will forever be etched in my memory - a badge of honor,” He said.

Thankfully, Dr. Buensalido and his team was already able to send home several patients and continues to do so. He explained that the patients recovered because aside from being obedient, they consulted early in their illness. By doing this, his team was able to intervene early by giving them antiviral medicine, supplements, along with close monitoring.

“I really think coming early for diagnosis and treatment made a difference, especially since their ages made them at very high risk for serious COVID-19 complications.”

Despite each victory, Dr. Buensalido also acknowledges the deficiencies that hospitals face to fully deliver safe and efficient medical care to patients. He explained that the hospital’s most crucial needs involve a steady supply of PPEs for consistent healthcare worker protection to ensure continuous quality care. 

Dr. Buensalido also believes that the mobilization of non-hospital institutions to diagnose and take care of non-serious cases will unburden the emergency rooms and intensive care units of the hospitals. Ultimately, he thinks that the availability of the drugs to treat COVID-19 and its complications will definitely improve outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality.

When asked about what drives him to keep serving the people, Dr. Buensalido answered, “I cannot find the words to call it right now, but the situation calls for all healthcare practitioners to step up or else COVID-19 will ravage our world with fear, disease and death. It is our time, and we will stand up to this bully of a disease.

As of April 6, the country has lost seventeen doctors due to COVID-19. Despite this, Dr. Buensalido has this to say to his fellow frontliners, “We have the most important job right now.  By coming to work and doing our jobs, we give people a chance to live and survive against this unseen enemy.  Some of us may fall and some of us have already succumbed to COVID-19, but as long as we take our precautions, and we prevent the virus from making us sick, we will be able to help more patients, get more of them better, until eventually we beat COVID-19 once and for all.”