THE Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has been identified as one of the sub-national hospitals that will be trained in processing throat and nasopharyngeal specimens from patients under investigation (PUI) for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
SPMC Chief of Clinics and Health Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB) Coordinator Ricardo Audan said in an interview Sunday, February 9, that during the meeting on Friday with the Department of Health (DOH) technical working group in Manila which he attended, it was agreed to create sub-national laboratories of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in different areas in the country.
“SPMC is one of the sub-national for RITM na mag-train ng med-tech (medical technologist) for the case,” Audan said, adding that some selected personnel from SPMC will undergo training in RITM for the processing of specimen of PUIs.
To date, the RITM, a DOH health research facility, is the sole facility in the country that is capable of conducting confirmatory tests for the new pathogen.
Due to the congestion in the facility, there are delays in the release of results.
This drew concern from state-run hospitals since the delay of results would mean that they can’t release the patient yet although that person is asymptomatic.
Supposedly, the result of the specimen should come out within 48 hours, but because of the bulk of specimen submitted to the RITM, results usually take longer than 48 hours.
That is why it was recommended for the setting up of sub-national hospitals to assist in the testing of the samples.
SPMC will conduct testing in Mindanao. Other hospitals include Vicente Sotto Medical Center (VSMC) for Visayas, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC).
Audan, however, cannot give an exact date when it will start since the recommendation will be presented to the executive committee first but he added that it will be “as soon as possible”.
As of Sunday, he said there have been three patients admitted in their hospital who tested negative for the dreaded virus. They are still waiting for the test result of the two remaining PUIs in their isolation facility.
Although they have trained personnel to detect virus, however those were just trained for the detection of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (Sars-CoV) and Ebola virus (SARS).
Since 2019-nCoV is a new virus, they have to undergo training.
“With this, we can fast-track the processing of the specimen. We can immediately discharge the patient as patients staying in the hospital become irritable and yet we can’t release them even though they don’t exhibit signs and symptoms. With the sub-national laboratory, we will determine the result faster,” Audan added.
If the patient tests positive in the sub-national hospital, that’s the time they will send the specimen to the RITM for second opinion.