SAN FERNANDO CITY, May 25 (PIA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) in Ilocos Region welcomes the opening of the first Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing facility in the region in one of their accredited hospitals.
On May 20, the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) located in this city received its certification from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to perform independent testing for the disease using the RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) machine.
Prior to the accreditation of the Molecular Biology laboratory of ITRMC, swab specimens from Region 1 were sent to Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for testing.
"With the accreditation of the COVID-19 testing facility in ITRMC, the first in the region, we now have a chance for a faster turn around time of results," Medical Officer IV Rheul C. Bobis, COVID-19 focal person of the DOH-1, said.
He added," It will also enhance our expanded testing activities in the region."
In an earlier interview of the Philippine Information Agency, Dr. Eduardo M. Badua, ITRMC medical center chief, said it took them one and a half months to acquire the certification from the initial assessment conducted on April 4 by a composite team from the RITM, DOH, and a representative from the World Health Organization.
The medical center chief informed that their facility had passed the multistage process for COVID-19 lab assessment. These steps include Self Assessment, On-Site Assessment, Compliance, Proficiency Testing, and Full Scale Implementation.
"They looked into everything from the equipment, facilities such as the design and negative pressure rooms, and the trainings and capabilities of the people who will work in the lab, and we complied with all the requirements," Badua told PIA.
On their priority cases for testing, Badua said they are bound to follow the guidelines set forth by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) of the DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
As of May 25, the ITRMC has received a total of 187 specimens for testing from the DOH-1.
Further, the other two DOH-accredited hospitals namely the Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Pangasinan and the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, Ilocos Norte are also in the process of accreditation of their own COVID-19 testing centers.
Bobis said these hospitals are currently at Level 3 which means that they are given a period to comply with the requirements and recommendations and their laboratory will submit evidences of their compliance to the DOH Assessment Team for evaluation.
Once these have been found to be satisfactory, the laboratories will be recommended for the next stage, the Proficiency Testing.
Meanwhile, DOH Spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire disclosed on the May 25 episode of the Network Briefing News that there are now 42 licensed laboratories, including 34 RT PCR and eight GeneXpert facilities.
"DOH is fast tracking the requests for licensing. This depends on how fast our laboratories can comply with the requirements," Vergeire said. (JCR/JND, PIA La Union)