South Cotabato opens COVID-19 medical facility

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 April) — The provincial government of South Cotabato opened on Sunday a dedicated hospital that will handle patients with suspected severe symptoms of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, head of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Monday the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) in Surallah town is now “fully functional” and ready to accept referrals for COVID-19 persons under investigation (PUIs).

He said the “COVID hospital,” which is manned by government and private doctors, has an initial capacity of 20 beds and complete intensive care unit or ICU setup but these could be expanded later on depending on the need and available resources.

Aturdido said it has a delivery room for pregnant patients and they are working on the installation of a dialysis machine for those needing such treatment.

“Our only problem right now is additional human resource, especially doctors and nurses,” he said in a press briefing in Koronadal City.

The official said the hospital, which had transferred its previous patients to other facilities in the province, will mainly accommodate new COVID-19 PUIs, especially those with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) symptoms.

He said the patients will be referred to the facility upon the assessment and recommendation of the IPHO and Municipal Health Offices (MHO).

Aturdido clarified that the hospital will not accommodate walk-in patients and advised residents suffering from suspected symptoms to seek help first with their barangay health emergency response teams (BHERTS).

The BHERTS will then endorse them to the MHOs and the IPHO for proper examination, he said.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Aturdido said the province has a total of 47 PUIs, with 25 having SARI symptoms and admitted in various hospitals.

He said 27 patients have already tested negative for COVID-19 while the test results of 16 others were still pending at the Southern Philippines Medical Center laboratory.

Among those who tested negative were two of the nine PUIs in the province who died due to suspected disease symptoms. Four of the deceased patients were not tested for the disease.

The province’s lone confirmed COVID-19 case, a 52-year-old male from Tboli town who had history of travel to Manila, remains in stable condition and currently undergoing strict home quarantine.

Aturdido said they have completed the contact-tracing of persons who had made contact with the patient and none of them showed any sign and symptom of the disease so far.

“We don’t have a local or community transmission of COVID-19 as of this time,” he added. (MindaNews)