While thus far GenSan has not yet had to quake under the devastating numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 similar to Metro Manila or Cebu City, the fact that there are COVID-positive patients in the city means that there is an urgent need for an effective facility for which to test signs of the coronavirus. All the better too, to have that testing location within the city, so as to get results from COVID testing early. While there are several hospitals that might be suitable for a testing lab, ultimately the honor and duty would be given to a well-known and private center of healing.
The Philippine News Agency reports that a COVID-19 testing center at St. Elizabeth Hospital in GenSan has been approved for operation by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). The government department and research agency confirmed the test lab license for the hospital on Wednesday, July 15. Said operational license from the DOH Bureau of Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau, gives St. Elizabeth permission to operate the facility until the end of this year, on December 31, 2020.
According to St. Elizabeth clinical pathologist Dr. Kenneth Crisostomo, the hospital underwent a five-stage process gain accreditation for examining medical samples for COVID-19. Their test lab must be certified as a level 2 biosafety facility, and its personnel must also be trained accordingly. Dr. Crisostomo notes that St. Elizabeth has attained full compliance of RITM and DOH requirements. Their COVID test will be of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method via cartridge, due to the speed of which results can be returned. The fact that generating PCR test results can be automated was another plus.
St. Elizabeth Hospital’s mechanism for examining collected COVID-19 swab samples is a GeneXpert Xpress machine, one of which can get back at least 40 medical results in a day for doctors and testers. The lab is located in the hospital main clinical laboratory, a familiar site for many Generals coming in for medical examinations, and features a locker area for storing and putting on personal protective equipment (PPEs) for COVID tester safety. There is a decontamination chamber along with the room where swab samples are extracted, plus a biosafety cabinet where samples can be stored until analyzed by the machine. On full tilt, the number of test result returns can go up to 80, with one result within an hour.
“St. Elizabeth is proud to make rapid PCR testing, the gold standard and only confirmatory test for COVID-19, available to the communities of General Santos and nearby SOCCSKSARGEN,” says Dr. Kenneth Crisostomo, adding, “We remain committed as ever to our mission of keeping our families and communities healthy and safe.”
Image: St. Elizabeth Hospital Facebook