Tagum hospital can be test center but lacks personnel

(Photo by DRMC FB Page)
(Photo by DRMC FB Page)

THE Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC), the public hospital in Tagum City currently admitting patients under investigation (PUIs), can be authorized to conduct tests for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) but the lack of highly technical medical personnel remains a challenge, a medical institution official said.

“The more testing areas there are, the better it is,” Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) chief Leopoldo J. Vega said.

However, he considered experts in dealing with viruses to run the testing laboratory as the most important resource.

“What we have to do right now is just to make sure that the people are also trained to do that because this is not an ordinary thing of running a molecular biology [laboratory and] extracting virus if you have no safety protocols,” he said.

SPMC has been identified as the sub-national testing laboratory of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the Department of Health (DOH)’s national reference laboratory, since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

“This is the reason why we were able to procure the necessary machines, trained the people, and come up with enough training for them so they become part of the national RITM,” he said.

Despite that, Vega said there are only two molecular biologists operating the testing laboratory at SPMC.

He said these people have been trained and experienced dealing with several diseases following Sars up to the most recent virus.

“[When] Sars started and then H1N1 came in, the RITM was already thinking of endemic emerging diseases. And this is really an emerging disease so we have to prepare isolation facilities and laboratories for this,” he said.

However, he added that coronavirus is highly contagious that we were caught off guard in terms of resources, re-agents, and the people coming in.

Meanwhile, DOH-Davao regional director Annabelle Yumang said DRMC still needs to be assessed by the RITM based on its capacity, infrastructure, and available human resources.

“Gani kung tan-awon nato, katong mga medtech, dugay dugay na ang pagtrain sa ilaha and kinahanglan gyud naa pay assessment muagi including sa mga biosafety (The medical technologists at SPMC underwent rigorous training so we have to assess that for DRMC including the biosafety protocols),” she said.

She continued, “Dali ra kaayo mupalit og equipment but the training, ang tao, ang capacity sa mu-run sa laboratory, importante pud kaayo (It is easy to procure equipment but the training and the capacitating of the personnel is important),” Yumang said.


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