San Lazaro Hospital prepares isolation units for 2019-nCoV patients

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2020 04:04 PM

Medical workers monitor the Pediatric Infectious Disease Critical Care Unit in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, where 3 Chinese patients, 2 having recent travel history to Wuhan, China, are being observed for possible coronavirus infection on Tuesday. The Department of Health is currently monitoring 27 foreigners in various parts of the country who may be infected by the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN New

The San Lazaro Hospital in Manila has already prepared its isolation units in case of a positive case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines.

Currently, the hospital is observing three patients for possible nCoV infection. Two of them, a couple from Wuhan, China, had been admitted since Friday.

The third one was admitted Wednesday night, but hospital officials declined to give further details on the last patient.

All three patients are Chinese nationals, said Dr. Ferdinand De Guzman, spokesperson of the San Lazaro Hospital.

"May isang na-admit pero we are not yet allowed to comment on it. Hintayin pa ang abiso ng honorable secretary," De Guzman told ABS-CBN News.

"Stable ang condition ng 2. Pasok kasi ang sintomas nila sa criteria for admission," he added.

De Guzman said the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Critical Care Unit, Adult Infectious Diseases Critical Care Unit and Payward will be used for patients of suspected nCoV.

The three Chinese nationals under observation are isolated at the PIDCCU.

De Guzman explained these units have negative pressure rooms.

Negative pressure isolation rooms have ventilation systems that allow contaminated air to flow from the room outwards. The air is filtered before it leaves the room. Organisms in the air are then killed by sunlight.

"Sa mga sakit na bago like nCoV, di pa sure ang spectrum ng disease, doon 'yan nilalagay sa negative pressure room. Ito po may negative pressure sa loob. 'Yung sa labas po ay clean. So palabas po 'yan, the negative pressure will push the negative or contaminated air palabas ng room. There are vents inside the room. Airflow ang binibilang niyan. Para po ang organisms sa loob mailabas po,” De Guzman said.

The spokesperson added there will be designated hospital staff for each patient. They are not allowed to come in contact with or treat other patients in the hospital.

All hospital staff handling suspected nCoV patients are also required to wear disposable personal protective equipment.

"Hinihiwalay na po namin. We are implementing isolation procedures. Kung sino ang assigned diyan, sila lang po. Hindi sila pwede sa ibang patients. Kasi it will turn out... hindi naman pwedeng mahawaan ang ibang pasyente. So we have to lessen the exposure nitong PUI," De Guzman said.

"We are strict with the standard precautions. May protection po kami, pati foot gear. Pag highly suspected po, dinidispose po ang PPE, 'yung sinuot ng healthcare worker, whether doctor or nurse. After every patient po. Very strict kami sa infection control...Pag may dumating na bagong patient, gagamit ng bagong PPE.”

Asked what symptoms are being checked upon admission of a patient, De Guzman answered: "Pag may ubo, may lagnat, history of travel or kung taga-China, especially Wuhan."

Each patient will be screened in the triage area. If they show symptoms for 2019-nCoV, the San Lazaro Hospital will immediately bring the patient to the isolation room. If not, the patient will be brought to the emergency room for further tests.

"Kung wala kaming makitang sintomas, except kung worried siya kasi napapraning na... If they’re in doubt dahil naexpose sa isang Chinese who might be a carrier, hinihiwalay namin 'yan. Pag walang sintomas, sent home po,” the doctor said.

"PUI na may complications at pasok sa history of travel, sa negative pressure rooms namin sa PIDCCU. Meron din for adults. Ang dalawang areas ay for those cases. 'Yung iba naman na walang possible severe complications like pneumonia, niready na po namin ang Payward. Maganda po ang setup doon. May private rooms which can accommodate asymptomatic patients."

Patients being monitored for suspected nCoV cannot have visitors. 

"For public health safety, wala pong mga dalaw muna. Nung dinala dito, pag may accompanying, kasama na rin sila sa iimbestigahan kasi na-expose na sila,” he said.