DAVAO CITY – Patients referred to hospitals in Davao City are now required to present reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and chest-X Ray test results clearing them of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and pneumonia issued within 48 hours before they could be admitted, Mayor Sara Duterte said.
In her interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday, Duterte said that her latest order was issued to protect private hospitals and their medical health workers, tasked with catering to non-COVID-19 patients, from possible exposure to the highly contagious disease.
She said that there were instances when some of the referred patients manifested the symptoms of the disease only after admission to a hospital, risking medical frontliners of exposure to COVID-19.
“There was a patient who went to a hospital for check-up for his ailment. The patient was swabbed when the doctor said he was a COVID-19 suspect. The result came out only after the checkup was completed. The patient turned out COVID-19 positive. Everybody there was already exposed. We needed to look for this person, telling all hospitals that we were searching for this patient who was already back in Cotabato,” she said.
Government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City were designated as COVID-19 referral hospitals, at the onset of the outbreak, she said.
“What will happen if we allow other hospitals to cater to non-COVID-19 cases is that we will run out of health care workers because, every time that there is a positive patient, they will need to go on quarantine. And then, of course, our health care workers, due to their constant exposure, will be infected, which might cripple the operation of the hospitals,” she said.
The local chief executive released Executive Order 53 on Friday, requiring mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR testing of resident non-resident patients who are referred for treatment to another hospital.
Section 1 provides that a patient, regardless of location of residence, and non-city resident companions must undergo RT-PCR test and Chest-Xray within 24 to 48 hours before their admission to any hospital in the city.
But the order only requires a companion, who lives in the city, to present a chest-X Ray test result.
“There must be a coordination between the referring hospital or doctor and the receiving hospital or doctor. There must be a clear acknowledgment from the receiving hospital or doctor before the patient and his companions are allowed to travel to Davao City,” it said.
Duterte said the receiving hospital must submit the list of names of the patients and their companions to Task Force Davao to be allowed entry at checkpoints.
It said the hospital may also require a repeat test after arriving here.
For emergency cases, the order provides that patients must be swabbed.
“For our emergency cases, there is no time to wait for the result because the hospital needs to attend to the emergency case right away. What we did was make swab tests mandatory upon arrival of all the emergency cases. Even without a test result, the hospital must do all it can to save the emergency case, but it should treat him as a COVID-19 suspect,” she added.
The order also states that all cancer patients should undergo a baseline RT-PCR test, and would be encouraged to continuously self-isolate. It added that cancer patients must also secure a medical certificate from their oncologist issued within two days.