UP Mindanao, SPMC to train medical personnel handling COVID-19 tests

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 May) –  As more public and private hospitals in the Davao region and in other parts of Mindanao are putting up COVID-19 testing facilities, two major institutions in Mindanao have agreed on a joint intensive training program for medical personnel handling these facilities: the University of the Philippines in Mindanao (UP Mindanao) and the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), both based in this city.

The Memorandum of Agreement for a joint intensive training program on SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics was signed by UP Mindanao Chancellor Larry Digal and SPMC chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega on May 26 at the SPMC.

UP Mindanao chancellor Larry Digal (R) and Dr. Leopoldo Vega (L), chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center sign the Memorandum of Agreement for the Joint Intensive Training Program on SARS-CoV-2 Molecular Diagnostics, at the SPMC on 26 May 2020. Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao director Dr. Lyre Anni Murao (standing, L) and SPMC chief training officer Dr. Maria Elinore Concha witness the signing. Photo courtesy of UP Mindanao

SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Public and private hospitals in Davao Region are establishing COVID-19 testing laboratories to address the increasing number of confirmed cases and the limited number of testing facilities. Through this joint program, we can address the need for more personnel to handle clinical specimens and perform the necessary molecular tests,” Digal was quoted as saying in a press release issued Friday by UP Mindanao.

The program aims to train more medical personnel to operate additional COVID-19 testing centers in Davao City and in other areas in Mindanao in a mix of online lectures, simulations and actual handling and processing of specimens.

Dr. Lyre nni Murao, director of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao based in the UP Mindanao campus in Mintal and SPMC chief training officer Dr. Maria Elinore Concha witnessed the signing of the agreement.

UP Mindanao, through PGC-Mindanao, will carry out a 14-day training for selected medical technologists and laboratory analysts, beginning with an online module on the molecular biology principles for SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), followed by extensive hands-on and practical exercises on laboratory procedures and workflow simulations at the UP Mindanao campus.

Laboratory personnel read Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results inside one of the laboratories of the Philippine Genome Center – Mindanao (PGC-Mindanao) in the University of the Philippines Mindanao in Davao City on 22 May 2020. The PGC-Mindanao is training personnel who will soon be fielded to Covid-19 PCR test laboratories. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

From the campus, the trainees will move to SPMC for the clinical diagnostics practicum and assessment program, which will involve actual handling and processing of specimens and operations in a SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics facility following guidelines established by the Department of Health (DOH).

The trainees who successfully complete the training program will have to undergo assessment by DOH before they can operate in a COVID-19 testing facility in their respective institutions.

Aside from the joint training with SPMC, UP Mindanao’s COVID-19 response also includes PGC-Mindanao’s diagnostic program for the testing facility at the Davao Regional Medical Center in Davao del Norte, assistance to the City Government of Davao in the renovation planning for the testing lab in Los Amigos, Tugbok District; the Interdisciplinary Applied Modeling laboratory’s work on COVID-19 mathematical modeling and data analysis as input for policy-making; and the university’s agreement with the local government to establish two isolation facilities within its campus. (MindaNews)