DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 September) — Patients referred to hospitals here are required to present results of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and chest-X Ray tests taken within 24 to 48 hours before their admission or surgery, Mayor Sara Duterte said.
Executive Order 53, released on Friday, requires mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR testing of resident and non-resident patients who are referred for treatment here.
The mayor said over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCRD 87.5) on Friday, that the local government issued EO 53 to protect private hospitals and their medical health workers who are tasked to attend to non-COVID-19 patients, from possible exposure to the highly contagious disease.
The mayor said there were instances when some referred patients manifested symptoms of the disease only after their consultations or admission to a hospital here, exposing their medical frontliners to COVID-19.
“There was a patient who went to a hospital for check-up for his ailment. The patient was swabbed when the doctor said he was a COVID-19 suspect. The result came out only after the check-up was completed. The patient turned out COVID-19 positive. Everybody there was already exposed. We needed to look for this person, telling all hospitals that we were searching for this patient who was already back in Cotabato,” she said.
The state-run Southern Philippines Medical Center here and the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City were designated as COVID-19 referral hospitals at the onset of the outbreak, to protect the city’s health system capacity.
“What will happen if we allow other hospitals to cater to non-COVID-19 cases is that we will run out of health care workers because, every time that there is a positive patient, they will need to go on quarantine. And then, of course, our health care workers, due to their constant exposure, will be infected, which might cripple the operation of the hospitals,” she said.
The local chief executive released Executive Order 53 on Friday, requiring mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR testing of resident non-resident patients who are referred for treatment to another hospital.
Section 1 provides that a patient, regardless of location of residence, and watchers or companions of non-resident patients must undergo RT-PCR test and Chest-Xray within 24 to 48 hours before their admission to any hospital in the city.
The order requires a companion, who lives in the city, to present a chest-X Ray test result only.
The EO also provides that all Davao City hospitals “are encouraged to make it a policy to request the results” for their “walk-in patients and their companions.”
It also said there must be a “coordination between the referring hospital or doctor and the receiving hospital or doctor” and a “clear acknowledgment from the receiving hospital or doctor before the patient and his companions are allowed to travel to Davao City.”
Duterte said the receiving hospital must submit the list of names of the patients and their companions to Task Force Davao to be allowed entry at checkpoints.
It said the hospital may also require a repeat test after arriving here.
For emergency cases, the order provides that patients must be swabbed.
“For our emergency cases, there is no time to wait for the result because the hospital needs to attend to the emergency case right away. What we did was make swab tests mandatory upon arrival of all the emergency cases. Even without a test result, the hospital must do all it can to save the emergency case, but it should treat him as a COVID-19 suspect,” she added.
The order also states that all cancer patients should undergo a baseline RT-PCR test, and would be encouraged to continuously self-isolate. It added that cancer patients must also secure a medical certificate from their oncologist issued within two days.
An RT-PCR test in a private laboratory in the city costs 6,500 pesos, the result available within 24 to 48 hours. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)