PH gov’t eyes turning Lung Center into hospital exclusive for coronavirus cases

Mara Cepeda
PH gov’t eyes turning Lung Center into hospital exclusive for coronavirus cases
But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says the proposal still 'needs further study,' as several patients without COVID-19 are still confined at the Lung Center of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government is eyeing turning the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City into a hospital exclusive for patients with confirmed novel coronavirus infection.

Duque said this in a late-night press conference together with other Cabinet officials on Monday, March 16, right after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine. 

“Tinitingnan po natin ang Lung Center kung puwede po siyang maging COVID-19 hospital (We’re looking at the Lung Center if it can be turned into a COVID-19 hospital),” the DOH chief said.

But Duque said this proposal still “needs further study,” as he was told by Lung Center executive director Vincent Balanag Jr that the hospital is still taking care of many patients who do not have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.  

“Mahihirapan sa ngayon kasi marami pa silang non-COVID-19 patients (It’s difficult to implement this now because they still have a lot of non-COVID-19 patients)…. But the operationalization needs further study,” Duque said.  

The Lung Center currently has 15 isolation rooms available for patients who tested positive for COVID-19. (READ: When you need to get tested for coronavirus – or not) 

It is one of 3 official referral hospitals where the government is currently admitting severe cases of COVID-19, along with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City and the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. 

The RITM is also the only accredited testing center for COVID-19 in the Philippines. Duque previously said that the government is working to have 4 more laboratories across the country accredited by the World Health Organization. 

These include the Lung Center, the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, and the Baguio General Hospital in Baguio City.

To date, the Philippines has tallied a total of 142 confirmed cases of the new disease, with 12 deaths.

Still, a total of 3 patients already recovered from COVID-19 in the Philippines, including a 46-year-old male resident of Pasay City. He is the first Filipino to recover from the novel coronavirus. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.