DOH accredits WVMC as COVID-19 test hub

(DG file)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo and Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Department of Health (DOH) has accredited Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City as a testing center for suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

In a televised conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire confirmed that they are setting up WVMC as a testing center apart from the Bicol Public Health Laboratory.

Iloilo City Rep. Julienne Baronda thanked the Department of Health (DOH) for the positive response to her request to accredit Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) as a testing center.

“We manifested during the House Committee on Health hearing our request for the COVID-19 Testing Center in WVMC coupled with a letter that I personally handed to Sec. Francisco Duque. We followed it up with another letter on March 15, 2020. We will continue to communicate and coordinate with the DOH and other national government agencies so that the WVMC personnel are trained at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at the soonest opportunity,” Baronda said.

The DOH also tapped five subnational laboratories to process COVID-19 tests – San Lazaro Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

Medical technologists from WVMC who will handle the testing will fly to Manila for the one-week training at the RITM.



The development coincides with moves of Ilonggo leaders to send help to the city and province of Iloilo in the fight against COVID-19.

Earlier, former Iloilo congressman Dr. Ferjenel Biron said he will donate 500 SEEGENE COVID 19 PCR-based testing kits to WVMC which is equipped with a compatible polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine.

The first imported KIT approved by the Philippine Food and Drugs Administration, the SEEGENE testing kits from Korea use an automated system with its auto analysis software and can provide test results in four hours and can perform thousands of tests a day.

Dr. Biron and incumbent Iloilo 4th district Rep. Braeden John Biron will also donate 10,000 surgical masks, 10,000 head covers, and 2,000 N95 masks which will be distributed to all hospitals in the city and province of Iloilo.

Also, Mayor Jerry Treñas confirmed on Friday that 100 test kits for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) were delivered to Iloilo City.

The mayor said the testing kits were donated by a group based in Manila after seeing his appeal on social media.

“It was donated by a group from Manila not even Ilonggos because they saw my call in social media. Thank you for hearing my plea to make testing faster here in Western Visayas,” he said on Friday.

Treñas added that DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III informed him that testing kits, including an accredited medical technologist from Manila, will arrive in Iloilo City to jumpstart the COVID-19 testing.

“Tomorrow we will have an accredited med tech to do the testing in Iloilo City and test kits from Manila. DOH is also now working with laboratories here in Iloilo to try to accredit the med techs and centers to read the tests,” he said.

A businessman in Iloilo City has also pledged to purchase testing kits to be used in the metro, the mayor added.

The city government and academic institutions in Iloilo have been pushing for the establishment of a testing center in the metro.

Currently, only the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), University of San Agustin and the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) can run COVID-19 testing in Iloilo City.



Ilonggo groups and businessmen also extended monetary and food donations, according to the mayor.

Hua Siong College of Iloilo Board of Trustees and Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce Iloilo Inc. have donated P 1 million worth of rice, noodles, and canned goods to the city government.

Ilonggo grocery chain Iloilo Supermart and the Que family donated P1 million which will be used for the immediate needs of the isolation center of the city, the mayor added.

“We have been getting donations of rice, chicken and fish. We will be distributing these to the barangays as soon as we get hold of these items,” he said.

Amid the trying times, Treñas said compassion and unity should rise to ensure that no one is left behind the fight against Covid-19.

“We commend those who chose compassion and selflessness for their fellow Filipinos. Let us unite and help one another. No one should be left behind,” he said.