SPMC to reopen surgical services in early July

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 27 June) —  The state-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the lone referral hospital for COVID-19 in there city, will reopen its surgical services in early July, after a temporary closure since March.

“It’s not forever that we will close our services even though there is no vaccine, even though there is no medicine (yet for COVID-19).  We really have to open some of the services, especially the elective surgery, because there are a lot of patients already waiting to be operated on to alleviate their pains,” said Dr. Ricardo Audan, Chief of Clinics and Health Emergency and OIC SPMC chief.

Audan said the decision to reopen the surgical department was reached early this week.

Initially, he said, the plan was to reopen on July 1 but it might be moved to July 8.

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

He said the surgical department has adopted protocols and guidelines for patients and doctors who will do the surgery, to eliminate the risk of transmitting the disease.

Audan said walk-in patients will not be admitted unless they make a prior appointment with the hospital for the schedule of their surgery.

The hospital will prioritize charity patients, he said.

But prior to the surgery, patients would be required to undergo a 14-day home quarantine and would be subjected to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the 15th day.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 will not qualify for operation and will instead be referred for isolation, he said.

The RT-PCR test, he said, will be free of charge for patients but the hospital will require a payment of 750 pesos for the personal protective equipment (PPE).

Audan said the doctors will also be required to undergo RT-PCR tests.

“We cannot remain closed forever. We need to do something for our patients who are waiting for elective surgery,” he added.

As of June 26, Davao City recorded 402 COVID-19 cases out of the Davao region’s 503.

Davao City and Zamboanga cities are the only cities in Mindanao that remain under General Community Quarantine.  The rest are under Modified General Community Quarantine which is a step away to what is referred to as “new normal.”

Audan said the hospital will gradually reopen other departments, including Dermatology, ENT (eyes, nose, and throat), Ophthalmology, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics.

He said these services are currently available only through teleconsultation.

“These are not really closed because they are doing teleconsultation. The majority of the departments are doing teleconsultation. What are closed are the face-to-face consultations,” Audan said.

For several months, the SPMC has been the only hospital in Mindanao that processed test results of suspected COVID-19 patients through RT-PCR.

At present, Davao Region has three COVID-19 testing facilities, with the addition of Davao One World Diagnostic Center Inc. in Davao City and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Testing facilities are now also available in the key cities of Mindanao such as Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Koronadal and Surigao. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)