By Warren Elijah Valdez
SULTAN KUDARAT – The provincial government of South Cotabato may now run diagnostic tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after the Department of Health (DOH) granted it the license to operate a testing laboratory in the province.
On June 4, the DOH’s Health Facilities and Services Regulation Bureau released the license to operate of the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center (DAPPMC), a privately –run hospital in Koranadal City.
The approval of the LTO came three days after the testing laboratory completed the proficiency testing and final assessment required by the DOH’s inspecting body.
Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said in in a press conference on Friday the province has decided to partner with DAPPMC because it was already equipped with an accredited biosafety level 2 laboratory.
He said the provincial government opted to partner with DAPPMC as this was the faster route with lesser costs of putting up a COVID-19 testing center, noting that this will be the “first” public-private partnership (PPP) for a COVID-19 testing laboratory in the country.
“Despite the trials and challenges, we have been successful to have this kind of measure against COVID-19. We now have the license to operate for our laboratory. We now have our testing center. These things are just the start of our fight against COVID-19,” Tamayo said.
“This is just one way that the invisible enemy of ours will seem to have like a portion of it to be visible to us. Because we can easily track the virus and we can immediately isolate it if ever it enters our province,” he added.
With its approval, the hospital may now run Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests for the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2, which is the pathogen that causes COVID-19.
DAPPMC will be using the GeneXpert machine to run RT-PCR tests, which has the capacity to run at least 30 tests on an eight-hour operation.
The National Task Force on COVID-19 facilitated the approval on the use of the machine, which was donated by the DOH to the DAPPMC, as well as the fast-tracking of its transfer to the hospital on Tuesday last week.
Meanwhile, Intergrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief Dr. Rogelio Atrudidto Jr. said that the laboratory will be manned by trained individuals from both the provincial government and DAPPMC, pointing out that the personnel will be provided with necessary personal protective equipment (PPEs) shouldered by the government.
He also said that there is an ongoing process for the procurement of another machine to run COVID-19 tests capable of testing at least 90 tests in a day.
On the other hand, DAPPMC medical director Dr. Nanette Pingoy-Franco said the DAPPMC is grateful for the opportunity given to them by the province of South Cotabato “to work with them side by side” on the fight against COVID-19.
“Ang pagka-approve sini sa aton COVID-19 testing laboratory, dako gid ni nga bulig sa aton mga doctor sa pagdiagnose sa mga pasyente kag sa aton nga epidemiological (unit) para matrace nila kung diin kag ano kadalom ang infection sa COVID-19 diri sa South Cotabato. (The approval of our COVID-19 testing laboratory is a big help to our doctors in diagnosing the patients and to our epidemiological (unit) for them to trace where (is) and what is the depth of the infection of COVID-19 here in South Cotabato),” she said.