Drug center re-purposed to virus isolation center in Sarangani


GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The provincial government of Sarangani on Thursday opened an isolation facility for suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients inside the regional drug rehabilitation center donated by the Chinese government in Alabel town.

Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Sarangani health officer, said Friday the facility is ready to accommodate patients with mild symptoms of the disease in case of a possible surge of infections in the province.

Alejandro said they completed early this week the conversion of a portion of the PHP350-million Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Barangay Kawas, Alabel into a dedicated Covid-19 facility.

The provincial government had allocated some PHP3 million for the establishment of the isolation center, he said.

Alejandro said the 150-bed center, which is managed by the Department of Health (DOH), has been operational and has catered to dozens of persons who use drugs (PWUDs) through its outpatient program.

In February, the provincial government used the center as a quarantine facility for four visiting Chinese nationals who eventually tested negative for Covid-19.

Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon arranged with the DOH to allow its use as a Covid-19 facility, allotting isolation rooms for male and female patients, treatment facilities and separate rooms for the assigned medical teams.

Alejandro said the isolation ward could accommodate 10 patients with five beds each room for female patients and another for male patients, with barriers installed between the beds for physical distancing purposes.

“We acquired a mobile X-ray machine to facilitate the immediate examination of the suspected Covid-19 patients,” he said in a radio interview.

Aside from this, Alejandro said they have also prepared another isolation unit at the Sarangani Provincial Hospital, which is located inside the Provincial Capitol compound in Alabel.

He said DOH personnel, along with provincial officials, have already conducted the initial inspection of the facility, which was intended as a contingency isolation unit.

Under Executive Order 11 issued earlier this month by Solon, suspected Covid-19 patients manifesting mild symptoms would be accommodated in the provincial isolation facilities and the municipal isolation areas.

Those with moderate to severe symptoms would be referred to the provincial government’s partner Levels 2 and 3 hospitals here.

As of Thursday, Sarangani has not recorded any confirmed case of Covid-19 and all 10 of its suspected patients have tested negative for the virus.