National Center for Mental Health hits official who spoke about facility's COVID-19 response


Posted at Apr 08 2020 06:44 PM

MANILA — The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) on Wednesday issued a statement against one of its official who allegedly released statements to the media regarding the facility's response in the COVID-19 crisis.


The statement was addressed to NCMH chief administrative officer Clarita Avila.

"This is to inform you that you are not the spokesperson for the NCMH, you are not a member of the NCMH COVID-19 committee and not even a member of the Expanded Management Committee of the hospital," said Roland Cortez, NCMH medical center chief II.

According to Cortez, Avila is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Mandaluyong-based mental health facility.

"The DOH was surprised that you are going around various media outlets and speaking about COVID-19 issues when you are not the spokesperson of the hospital or authorized to do so."

GMA News on Tuesday reported, quoting Avila, that over half of psychiatrists at the NCMH were under quarantine due to COVID-19. It was not immediately clear if the hospital was referring to the said report in its gag memo.

Cortez cited Department of Health (DOH) memorandum no. 2020-0110, which bars them from reporting information related to any COVID-19 cases "prior to the reporting of such by first the DOH."

"[This is] to ensure harmonized reporting, prevent circulation of unverified information and avoid confusion among the public," Cortez said.

"You are ordered to refrain from issuing statement about COVID-19 issues becauses this function is under DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire," he added.

The NCMH is a special research training center and hospital licensed by the DOH and accredited by PhilHealth. It has an authorized bed capacity of 4,200 inpatients and served an average of 56,000 outpatients per year.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 3,870 COVID-19 cases.