COVID-19

GUIDE: Transferring from home isolation to a health facility for COVID-19

Michelle Abad
GUIDE: Transferring from home isolation to a health facility for COVID-19
Protocols for facility quarantine may vary in different parts of the country, so the experience of a COVID-19 patient in one province may not be the same in another

Even though restrictions in Metro Manila eased earlier in October and active cases have dropped, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the Philippines. An infection would require Filipinos to quarantine at home or at local healthcare facilities to protect the public and their loved ones from the disease.

Protocols for facility quarantine may vary in different parts of the country, so the experience of a COVID-19 patient in one province may not be the same in another.

What should you expect if you experience COVID-19 symptoms and test positive? What if you have to move from home quarantine to facility quarantine?

Below, we lay out pieces of advice from four people whose household members had to undergo quarantine at a facility. We combine them with guidelines from the Department of Health (DOH).

Get in touch with your LGU

In the whole duration of your COVID-19 experience, your local government unit (LGU) should be updated about your condition. The first responders would be your Barangay Health Emergency Response Team, which can help you get access to testing when you develop symptoms. If you have gotten your test elsewhere, your BHERT should be immediately informed if you test positive for COVID-19.

The BHERT should then send a contact tracer to conduct an interview.

If your BHERT is unresponsive, you can opt to contact your city or municipal government.

Familiarize yourself with your LGU’s protocols

Specific protocols could vary, depending on the LGU.

Some LGUs may not allow home quarantine even if there is sufficient space in your house.

An LGU may have a standard for a set of symptoms to deem you eligible for a facility. For example, if you have pneumonia, or as long as you are not asymptomatic, you could be immediately eligible.

Other times, an LGU that would normally want patients in facilities could allow for certain mild cases to stay home, like if the patient has a place to isolate or if there are no more rooms in the facilities.

Pack and get fetched by the LGU

Even before your LGU decides you should be put in a facility, it’s best to prepare things beforehand. Depending on the severity of your case, the LGU could require you to go to a health or quarantine facility immediately or they could ask you to go home first.

Sometimes, it could take a day or two after confirmation before they actually come and fetch you from your home.

You can expect to be provided with some essential personal items when you arrive at the facility, but it’s alright to come prepared as well. Here are some things you can pack before your LGU picks you up:

  • Utensils and cup
  • Blanket
  • Kulambo (mosquito net)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and soap
  • Towel
  • Other toiletries you might need
  • Other special medications

The government’s isolation facilities vary. You can be brought to a hospital. Sometimes, you may end up in a school that has been converted into a health facility. Other times, you may be brought to a hotel. It’s best to be prepared for any situation.

Undergo monitoring

A patient is meant to undergo a minimum of 10 days of isolation from the day they tested positive. If you no longer exhibit symptoms on the 10th day, you should be free to go home.

But here is life in the facility for now.

Hotel

If the facility is a hotel, it’s easy to imagine how to isolate yourself from other patients.

The health workers will provide you healthy meals three times a day, free of charge. Expect typical Filipino servings – rice, ulam (viand), and vegetables or fruit. If you have dietary restrictions or religious concerns (e.g. Muslim), let the health workers know as well.

Vitamins and medicines to treat your symptoms will also be provided for free. Nurses should be on call to monitor you and remind you to take your medications if needed.

Some supplements or medicines you may be prescribed include antibiotics, antiviral drugs, virgin coconut oil capsules, Vitamin C, and zinc. You should also be provided with a digital thermometer for you to check your temperature on your own.

School

If the facility is a school, classrooms are converted into isolation rooms. If there aren’t a lot of people confined at the time you go, you could have a classroom to yourself. But if the facility is packed, you might share your classroom with one to two more patients (still separated by dividers).

School facilities may use the common restrooms already constructed into the buildings. You should be given a pail and dipper (tabo) where you are expected to take your baths inside the stalls.

The 10 days of isolation are a total duration – that means this can be split between home and facility isolation. If you tested positive on day one, isolated at home until day two, and then spent eight days in the facility, that should account for the entire 10 days.

Getting discharged

If you’ve reached the 10 days and are no longer experiencing symptoms, you may be allowed to go home.

As your barangay should be in constant communication with you, it should also prepare you for discharge. If not, contact your BHERT again and let them know you are about to be discharged.

If your facility does not have ready transportation, the BHERT is meant to help out with this too. A private sundo (fetcher) may also be arranged.

In the discharge process, the health facility may provide you with a health clearance. They might also provide “survival certificates,” which may look like diplomas, for your graduation from COVID-19.

The facility may not require a negative test before you are discharged.

Further monitoring

Once home, you might still be asked to isolate for a few more days, just to be sure. The monitoring health worker might recommend to complete four more days isolated from the people you live with. 

This would complete 14 days since you tested positive, which is when the virus would have run its course and you have gone past the infectious stage.

The BHERT should also be monitoring your close contacts, such as the people you live with. 

The LGU may not require this, but for peace of mind and if resources allow, you can go through another home testing service (preferably the gold-standard RT-PCR test) before completing isolation. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.