2 public hospitals in Davao Region ready for 2019-nCoV patients

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 February) – State-run Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City (SPMC) and Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Tagum City assured the public that they have the “capability and expertise” to handle patients with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“In terms of medical centers, we are now very capable of handling this especially in trying to isolate patients because aside from laboratory, we have isolation facilities. These isolation facilities can protect the health workers from getting contaminated because this is negative pressure, and also help patients’ watchers so they don’t get communicated,” SPMC chief of hospital Dr. Leopoldo Vega said.

Arriving passengers wear face masks at the Davao International Airport on 30 January 2019 amidst the scare of the fast spreading of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (n-CoV). The Philippines has just confirmed its first case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (n-CoV). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

He added the government had capacitated these two public hospitals following the reported occurrence of A(H1N1), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola Virus in the previous years.

He said these diseases prompted the Department of Health and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to upgrade their facilities and laboratories for any eventuality.

“We should understand that emerging infections are always here. This is not the first time that globally or the Philippines or even locally, we had experienced emerging infections,” he said.

The SPMC has 15 isolation rooms while DRMC has 10 others for patients who have contracted any of the highly contagious diseases, according Dr. Bryan O. Dalid, DRMC chief of hospital.

Medical experts are also on standby should they receive 2019-nCoV patients, he added.

Vega, however, added the recent samples from patients who were placed under monitoring by local health authorities had to be sent by RITM to Australia for testing since the 2019-nCoV is a relatively new virus. The virus was first reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019.

“When we have samples sent to RITM, even RITM does not have still because it’s very new and did not have the expertise and agents to uncover the virus. They have to send this over to Australia. Probably the virology equipment there is very much better off,” he said.

The two government-run hospitals, provincial and municipal medical centers and private hospitals have agreed to come up with a coordinated response for patients suspected to have contracted 2019-nCoV, he said.

“There are even networks or talks between these hospitals and all other stakeholders to have cooperation if some of these patients would choose not go to SPMC and DMRC, but to private hospitals, provincial health, or city health for treatment,” he said.

He assured the public that SPMC and DRMC are “capable and trained” to deal with infectious diseases.

DOH-Davao regional director Annabelle Yumang said health authorities monitored eight patients who showed symptoms of 2019-nCoV, and placed under investigation one who came from Hubei province in China.

She said patients who manifested signs and symptoms of the 2019-nCoV but did not meet the other criteria such as travel to China and exposure to patients who tested positive for the disease were placed under monitoring.

All patients, including an “asymptomatic” one who was placed under investigation, were discharged last week but were advised to “self-quarantine,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)