Agusan Sur frontliners relax with aromatic steam bath

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 19 June) – Frontliners and health workers in the province have been pampered with the stress-relieving hot steam bath chambers at the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force Emergency Operation Center and at the Provincial Learning Center (PLC) here.

A male frontliner enjoys a steam bath at the Emergency Operation Center of Agusan del Sur COVID-19 Task Force. MindaNews photo by CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. initiated the setting up of the steam bath rooms as a step ahead to protect the protectors, referring to the frontliners manning the different checkpoints at the provincial boundaries, health workers at the D.O. Plaza Memorial Hospital (DOPMH) and staff at the task force’s operation center.

Each chamber of the  steam bath therapy facilities can accommodate at least eight persons.

Cane said the initiative was inspired by the experience of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who revealed that it was the traditional steam therapy that helped him recover from COVID-19.

Año reportedly used traditional remedies like inhaling steam from boiling water and gargling with saline, although there is no evidence that steam therapy can kill the coronavirus or that saline can prevent respiratory diseases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

“With fingers crossed, we hope this can help,” the governor said.

Stress reliever

Frontliners attested they felt much better and relieved of their stress after undergoing steam bath therapy several times.

Loida Antonio, head of Camp Management Cluster of COVID-19 Provincial Task Force, said her body spasms and back and joint pains disappeared after her first 20-minute steam bath session on June 3 at the hostel of the PLC.

Antonio was on her third day of quarantine at the PLC’s hostel after she and 15 others were exposed to the first two COVID-positive patients in an isolation facility. They spent 14 days, from May 31 to June 14, in the quarantine facility.

Antonio, 50, said she was diagnosed with hypertension with 159/90 blood pressure upon entering the quarantine facility but it went down to 110/70 after her first steam bath.

“I noticed the heavy sweating from the steam bath vapor had burned my fats since my pants started to loose(n) on my waist,” Antonio said in a phone interview.

Three other frontliners who were however not part of the quarantine shared the same experience with Antonio.

Charry Armodia, logistics support staff of the Logistics Cluster of the task force, said she was relieved from carpal tunnel syndrome or the numbness of the hands and arms, after undergoing a 25-mnute steam bath therapy.

“I feel so good and I am amazed,” Armodia said.

The same body pain relief was experienced by Sunshine Mae Sarmiento, accounting in-charge at the logistic cluster and Cecilia Noja, security guard of the Provincial Correctional Security Management Office assigned at the entrance checkpoint of the provincial capitol.

Innovative pneumatic boiler

Cane’s younger sibling, Engineer Roderico Cane, offered his award-wining invention, an innovative pneumatic boiler that produces steam for the disinfectant chambers separately available for female and male frontliners and health workers.

Roderico recommended the lacing of a lemon grass essential oil on the conical steam chimney of the steam rooms the aromatic smell of which, he said, will help relax the human body and remove all toxins.

Engineer Roderico Cane laces with lemon grass essential oil the steam chamber chimney to make the steam produce aromatherapy. MindaNews photo by CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

“There’s no harmful effect of the lemon grass essential oil since this is a food supplement,” he said.

The pneumatic boiler won first place in the Mindanao Inventors Conference and Exhibits in 2009. It uses rice hull as its fuel and can boil water in just two hours in contrast to the traditional LPG-fueled boiler which takes four to six hours of heating.

But the steam bath chambers at the Emergency Operation Center and DOPMH used LPG fuel since it could produce steam towards the chambers for only two minutes.

Cost-effective fuel saver

The rice hull-fueled pneumatic boiler has been used by Roderico’s Joy Tablesauce Company in Butuan City which mainly produces banana ketchup and food supplements such as lemongrass capsule and hydrosol.

Roderico , a mechanical and industrial engineer, made the rice hull-powered pneumatic boiler after realizing that the company spent P90,000 a month on LPG because of the long period of time needed to reach boiling temperature.

With his invention, the company lowered its fuel cost by 90 percent while productivity increased by 30 percent.

Burnt rice hulls can be also used as carbonated hulls which is a good soil conditioner to make vegetable plants grow healthier.

Already, Roderico’s machine was fabricated by a cooperative in Bohol producing the famous kalamay, a sticky sweet delicacy made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and ground glutinous rice. It can also be flavored with margarine, peanut butter, or vanilla. Kalamay can be eaten alone or can be used as a bread sandwich. (Chris V. Panganiban/MindaNews)