DOH designates Jose Rodriguez, building at UP-PGH as coronavirus hospitals

Mara Cepeda

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DOH designates Jose Rodriguez, building at UP-PGH as coronavirus hospitals

LeAnne Jazul

Health Secretay Francisco Duque III acts on the urgent appeal of medical industry leaders


MANILA, Philippines – Acting on the urgent appeal of medical industry leaders, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on Friday, March 20, that he has given the go-signal to turn the Dr Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center and a building at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) for exclusive use of coronavirus patients.

Duque said that this was in response to the joint statement of private hospitals and medical industry leaders urging the government to put up “centralized” facilities for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus that has so far infected 212 in the country.

“Nabasa ko na ito at ‘yon na nga, gagawin natin, ‘yong PGH, binigyan ko na ng [go-signal] ’yong plano ng UP-PGH [na] gawin ‘yong isang gusali good for 140 COVID patients. Gagawin siyang exclusive COVID hospital ng PGH. Tapos ang DOH naman, we will also convert ‘yong ating Jose N Rodriguez Memorial Hospital sa Caloocan as a specialized COVID hospital,” Duque said in an interview on DZMM.

(I read that statement and that’s why I gave the go signal to the plan of UP-PGH to turn one of its buildings for the exclusive use of 140 COVID-19 patients. The PGH will be turned into a COVID-19-exclusive hospital. The DOH will also convert our Jose N Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan as a specialized COVID hospital.)

UP-PGH is located in Manila while Jose N. Rodriguez hospital is in Caloocan. Both cities have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Duque said he fully supports the appeal of the private hospitals to have dedicated  COVID-19 hospitals, as he knew even private hospitals were struggling as more and more persons under investigation (PUIs) are admitted to their facilities.

Health workers who get exposed to PUIs and COVID-19 patients have to take a 14-day quarantine, which means the workforce on duty in these hospitals would be severely affected.

“Tamang posisyon no’ng sumalat ng maraming private hospitals na talagang nakokompromiso pati ‘yong kanilang surgical services, pediatric, OB-GYN, iba pa hong mga may sakit. Siyempre nagkakaroon ng exposure. Tama naman ho sila kaya ko sinusuportahan ‘yong kanilang panukala, ‘yung kanilang mungkahi,” Duque said.

(The position of these private hospitals is correct because their surgical services, pediatric services, OB-GYN, and other patients really get compromised. Of course some of their workers get exposed. They are right and that’s why I am supporting their proposals.)

Duque, who himself is under quarantine due to exposure to a positive case, did not say when the two hospitals would begin admitting only coronavirus patients.  

The health chief earlier said the government was eyeing the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City as a facility exclusively for use of COVID-19 patients, but the “operationalization” was still being studied, as the Lung Center caters to many cancer patients.

For now, Duque said the Lung Center can offer several isolation rooms where novel coronavirus cases can be confined.

As of 12 pm on Thursday, March 19, the Philippines’ total tally of COVID-19 cases spiked to 217, 17 of which were fatal. Eight patients have recovered from the disease. – 

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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 or tweet @maracepeda.