This Dec. 18, 2019 photo shows Makati Medical Center, which declared full capacity last March 26 after handling 700 patients suspected to have the new coronavirus.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File
Makati Med patient transfer a 'possibility' as Metro Pacific sets COVID-19 referral hospital
Prinz Magtulis (Philstar.com) - March 30, 2020 - 7:53pm

MANILA, Philippines -- In a bid to decongest Makati Medical Center, Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Hospitals is exploring the possibility of transferring some of its coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients to another hospital owned by the tycoon.

In a statement on Monday, the company said Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Sta. Mesa, Manila will serve as its "main COVID-19 referral facility."

"For now, what they want is to first accept the PUIs (persons under investigation) there," said Melody del Rosario, vice-president for communications of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., in a phone interview. 

But "part of the plans going forward," she said, is to transfer some COVID-19 patients from sister hospitals like MMC when the need arises. "That's a possibility," she said. 

Since March 26, MMC has been operating in full capacity and the hospital management had said the facility would begin refusing COVID-19 patients for confinement to protect its existing patients and workforce. So far, no healthcare worker in the frontlines has contracted the disease, MMC medical director and CEO Saturnino Javier said in a separate statement. 

"The Senator (Koko) Pimentel fiasco has galvanized even more public support for the healthcare professionals in the Philippines," Saturnino said, pertaining to Pimentel's failure to disclose that he contracted the disease while accompanying his wife to MMC, risking contagion.

As of Monday, 4 p.m., MMC has 36 COVID-19 positive patients under its care, according to health department data. Apart from MMC, Asian Hospital in Alabang, which is part of Metro Pacific, has also admitted 23 patients who contracted the virus, while Our Lady of Lourdes only has two COVID-19 positive patients, the latest tally showed.

There are 13 other hospitals under Metro Pacific, and the company said they were asked to double their 600 available beds, personnel and other resources to respond to the global pandemic.

If the situation worsens, the firm said "supplemental tents, with beds and requisite equipment" will be deployed as "an extraordinary measure." 

"At the same time, we aim to provide every assistance possible to our doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel to protect their well-being and safety as they courageously pursue their enormously difficult task of caring for patients," Pilar Nenuca Almira, head of Metro Pacific's COVID-19 crisis team, said. 

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