The first-ever molecular laboratory in Negros Oriental is ready to be launched at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital (NOPH) in October 2020 to boost the province’s campaign against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dumaguete City.
The biosafety Level 2 plus laboratory intends to test 150 individuals in a day with the release of the result in 48 hours or two days, said Dr. Mico Cablao, pathologist of NOPH.
In an Inter-Agency Task Force consultative meeting with the local chief executives, Cablao said as soon as the application for accreditation of the laboratory will be approved by Department of Health (DOH), “we can start the testing of the specimen here.”
“Maka barato na ta sa mga (we can now have more affordable) PCR tests and the LSIs arriving will be swabbed here. That will open up the city and province for tourists and visitors later on, this is a good development,” said Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo.
It was noted that the facility will have an effect on those who need to undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test, unlike at present when the specimens have to be sent to Cebu City.
In her report to the mayors, Dr. Liland Estacion, IATF health ground commander, said the province so far has manageable number of COVID-19 cases, but emphasized that for as long as the people are cooperative and consistently observing health and safety protocols, the virus can be prevented.
For the management of the molecular laboratory, a public hearing will be set for the crafting of an ordinance as the mayors will have to come to an agreement for the expenditures of the lab tests, whether there will be a cost sharing scheme between the province, local government units, and the patients.
Currently, Cablao said the facility is now almost done with the DOH licensing process, has passed Stage 4 proficiency test with Stage 5 awarding of license to operate.
It is expected to be completed by the end of this month and will likely be operational in October.
A group of bankers in Negros Oriental encouraged the public to utilize online banking platforms especially during this time of pandemic.
Negros Oriental Bankers Club (NORBAC), Inc. Sec. Elmer Teves invited bank clients in the province to enroll in online banking platforms, citing that all important services except for cash deposit can be done at internet banking portals.
“If you can only explore the beauty of online banking maka-ingon ka (you will say) this this it. Everything is there you can transfer (funds) from your bank to another bank. It’s free (and has) real time credit,” Teves said.
“Karon panahuna as much as possible dili unta moadto ang mga tawo sa bangko unless very urgent ug kana ra gyud manghatag ug cash deposits (As much as possible, people should limit their personal transactions in banks unless it’s very urgent or if it pertains to cash deposts). All other transactions can be done online. The online platform is very powerful,” he added.
Teves said there is still a need to raise awareness on the benefits of online banking since most people in the province are still practicing the traditional banking methods.
“Ang dako siguro hagit (the big challenge) is for the people to be educated on the power of online banking, online platform, and ATM banking,” Teves noted.
In a similar development, the NORBAC official said the local banking industry is slowly recovering from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nidaghan na pod ang banking transactions karon compared to the ECQ. During the ECQ, gimaba gyud namo ang banking hours which is 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. kay at the time, people are afraid. Hadlok mogawas. Naa pa tay QPasses so wala kaayo mo-transact sa bangko. Once nag-MGCQ na ta nahinay-hinay ug balik ang mga tawo sa pag-transact sa bangko (The number of people transacting with banks increased nowadays compared to during the ECQ period. We shortened the banking hours during the ECQ period from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at that time because people were afraid to go out. QPass was also imposed that time. However, when we shifted to MGCQ, people started coming out. Bank transactions have normalized),” Teves explained.
He also pointed out that the long lines seen outside the banks could be an indication that many people are now going to the banks.
Teves believes this shows that the economy is slowly recovering from the pandemic.
He said banks have already put in place measures to ensure the safety of their depositors during transactions inside their banks.
The newly-constructed facility of Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital (NOPH) is now ready to operate.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and Vice Gov. Mark Macias led other officials of the provincial government in inaugurating the said building on Sept. 7, 2020.
The isolation facility contains 34 rooms equipped with negative pressure machines and also embedded with oxygen lines.
All rooms have bio-steel doors and its own air-conditioning system.
The building also has a 24-hour back-up generator, a centralized oxygen room, its own nurses’ station, doffing room, and morgue.
The isolation facility is intended for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms and other forms of communicable diseases.
Degamo said the establishment of an isolation facility inside NOPH will boost the government hospital’s competitiveness and enable the health care facility to catch up with other private hospitals around the city.
“If you notice kita ra ang naa ani within the city (If you notice, it’s only NOPH which has this facility within the city). We really need this during this pandemic,” Degamo disclosed.
Macias said this would also enhance the provincial government’s COVID-19 response capability.
“Usa ana ang paghimo ug isolation facility (One way to address this is the establishment of an isolation facility). I think this is record breaking. We have this facility this big and this good,” Macias said.
The facility was completed within the target date of 60 days.
Negros Oriental’s top executives lauded the contractor of the project for their commitment to finish the structure within the target days given to them.
They also thanked the Sangguniang Panglalawigan for their support towards the realization of this project.
The funds for the construction of the NOPH isolation facility was taken from the provincial government’s P98-M Bayanihan Funds.
Engr. Louie Tijing of PhilSouth, the project contractor, assured the public that they have complied with the guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH) during the construction of the isolation facility.
The facility is made of reinforced concrete while negative pressure mechanisms placed in every room has a three-filter system to thoroughly cleanse and purify the air circulating within the building.
Tijing noted that the negative pressure systems is also a way “to protect nurses and doctors on duty.”
He also assured the neighboring homes and buildings adjacent to the isolation facility that there is nothing to fear as the air emitted from the facility is clean.
“That is the machine that will assure them na mas limpyo pa ang palibot dire kaysa maglakaw-lakaw ka sa kadalanan kay tulo ang atong filtration system dire. Guaranteed na ang hangin na mogawas dire limpyo gyud siya (That is the machine that will assure them that the air surrounding the facility is cleaner compared to the air quality when you go around the streets because of our three-layer filtration system. The air here is guaranteed clean),” Tijing emphasized.
Meanwhile, Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo, who was one of the guests during the inauguration, also congratulated the provincial government on this development.
“Naa na gyud dedicated building or isolation facility para sa mga COVID patient nato (for our Covid patients). This will enhance our capability to treat COVID patients. Congratulations to the governor, the vice governor, to the members of the (provincial) board for the speedy implementation of the project,” Remollo said.
The mayor also shared his plans to replicate the facility at the city level.
“Naa man pod ta sa city na project na national government na wala nahuman diha sa Talay. It should have been a mini-hospital. I’m now planning na i-pursue na siya. Mangayo ta ug permission sa regional DOH to turn over the unfinished building para kita na ang motiwas. Himoon pod tingali nato ug isolation facility (We also have an unfinished project in Brgy. Talay. It should have been a mini-hospital. I’m now planning to purse this. I will ask the regional office of DOH to turn it over to us so we can finish the construction. We will make it an isolation facility),” Remollo said.