Modular hospitals yet to be built in regions with COVID-19 spike: DPWH

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2021 04:38 PM


MANILA— The government is racing against time to construct modular hospitals and isolation facilities in the regions as the number of COVID-19 cases spike outside Metro Manila. 

As a result, Public Works and Highways and Isolation Czar Mark Villar said they are shifting their focus to the regions. The agency has almost completed its target bed capacity in NCR.

"Sa NCR, malaki ang improvement sa quarantine facilities. Less than 40% na sa Metro Manila (occupied). Noong height ng COVID, mahigit 70%. Medyo nako-control na rin sa NCR, pero nakatutok kami sa areas sa labas ng NCR para 'di tumaas masyado (occupancy rate)," Villar said.

The agency targets to construct modular hospitals, instead of isolation facilities, in Region 6, 9, and 11. Isolation facilities only have basic amenities which will not be enough to treat moderate to severe COVID-19 cases.

In July, the DPWH is set to open a 100-bed capacity modular hospital in Southern Medical Center in Davao City.

The modular hospitals, which only take 45 days to construct, are equipped with health care amenities sufficient to serve even severe COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, the facilities are built inside hospital complexes for more manageable logistics for medical workers.

DPWH just opened a 22-bed modular hospital Thursday morning inside the V. Luna Medical Center complex. Hospital management assessed that the P25-million semi-permanent structure meets international standards of health care. 

"Our original repurposed ICU is the quarters for our doctors. It doesn't have the piped-in oxygen; it doesn't have the white doors. It doesn't even have ramp access. This middle space can also serve as a buffer in case there's another surge." said Col. Fatima Claire Navarro, Medical Chief of V Luna Medical Center.

The challenge lies in the availability of health workers to operate the facility and the medical equipment to operationalize the rooms if another surge occurs.

"AFP will find a way to tap not just our regular officers, medical workers, but also reservists. With the current census, we have enough right now, but if there will be another surge and open the 150 beds including this (new facility), definitely we'll need an augmentation." Luna said.

Villar said modular hospitals that the DPWH will build in the provinces would be almost similar to facilities in NCR.