PLANS to designate the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium as Covid-19 referral hospitals in Metro Manila are expected to be finalized Friday, March 20.

Talks are ongoing for the PGH to provide 140 beds, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a radio interview Friday.

Aside from the PGH and Jose Rodriguez Hospital (formerly Tala Leprosarium), the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) has also pledged to dedicate one wing with 40 beds for Covid-19 patients.

“Because LCP is the referral hospital for patients with multi-drug resistant tubercolosis and lung cancer, care must be taken not to expose these immunocompromised patients,” the Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement Friday.

Duque, in an interview over the radio, said he selected the PGH and Jose Rodriguez Hospital in response to a joint statement issued by private hospitals asking the government to designate centralized medical facilities for Covid-19 patients.

“Nabasa ko na ito at ‘yon na nga, ‘yung PGH, binigyan ko na ng (go-signal) na gawin ‘yung isang gusali good for 140 Covid patients. Gagawin siyang exclusive Covid hospital ng PGH. Tapos ang DOH naman, we will also convert ‘yun ating Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital sa Caloocan as a specialized Covid hospital,” Duque said in a radio interview Friday.

In a statement, the agency said talks were ongoing on the referral mechanism and rotation system that will be employed in the two hospitals.

The agency also asked for support from health workers in Metro Manila.

“The initiative will require full support from the NCR (National Capital Region) medical community since additional health care workers will needed to complement PGH’s existing workforce,” the agency stated.

“The DOH is one with the entire nation in recognizing the many sacrifices health workers have already made and will continue to make, including those in PGH. We are working hard to ensure that health workers will be protected while caring for their patients,” it added.

The agency also called for blood donations to ensure adequate supply for severe and critical patients.

PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi earlier told SunStar that there will be a separate tent for people who tested positive for the virus and for patients under investigation.

As of Thursday, the DOH reported 217 Covid-19 cases in the country, with 17 deaths and 8 recoveries.

Globally, Covid-19 has killed nearly 8,000 people among 191,127 infected persons. Covid-19, which has been declared a pandemic, is caused by the novel coronavirus. (SunStar Philippines)