Personal experience inside isolation facility, Colon, Naga
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 1, 2020 - 12:00am

“First night of Isolation.

“I try to sleep but I could not sleep. The critical and aware part of me is rebelling. I understand protocols and I understand the need for general safety. But also, I know that it is my right and my siblings’ right to be treated humanely. It is my responsibility to raise these concerns so that others will not be subjected to the same fate. I am not asking for a VIP Treatment - just humane conditions while in isolation.

“Instead of pulling us out, my request was for our compound and homes to be checked and approved so we could be allowed for home isolation. Our concretely fenced compound has enough open space, secluded and isolated, with four sturdy houses, with enough rooms.

“We were pulled out instead, kay di pwede - wa gani tan-awa usa.

“On our way to the Isolation Facility in Colon, City of Naga, the driver was rushing; we almost hit a truck. Basic humanitarian response guidelines require that a responding vehicle’s speed should not go beyond 80.

“At the facility, we were oriented on house rules (I'll put credit to that).

“We were given schedules which include "Tuob" without being asked if we agree to it. We did not resist, I just told my siblings to use the kettle and the ginger, instead, for drinks.

“We were given beds "teheras." The facility, however, has only two CRs. Being assigned at the farthest end, we have to pass by other rooms occupied by other isolated families. In the hallway going to the CRs, I observed that the protocol on wearing masks is not observed by the others. (Where is safety here?)

“Toilet is very basic to Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) concern in whatever response and evacuation management. How can the virus not spread when so many people were provided only two CRs? The CR also had defective floor drain - the waste water subsided very slowly! (Where is health protocol and safety here?)

“On protection/security of women and the young. My niece, supposed to be with us in isolation, was assigned to another facility, in a room alone, with empty rooms in between, far from the other isolated individuals. (Where is child protection and ensuring safety of young people here?).

“For me, following basic standards of facilities in isolation centers/evacuation center is very basic in addressing the psycho-social needs of the isolated persons.

“We abide by your rules and protocols but at least basic hygiene, safety and protection is a duty that the City of Naga DOH should also address and look-into.”

Updates the next day:

“Thanks to those who immediately acted on our situation. We learned that my young niece was allowed to be the watcher of my mother, now in a Cebu hospital.”

“We were informed that we will be transferred to a room with own CR inside. We still hope to be allowed home quarantine!”

“My suggestions for future cases 1.) Explore the possibility of home isolation for families of COVID-positive patients who are asymptomatic; 2.) In doing contact tracing, a follow-up assessment be conducted, to determine conditions/other needs of family members so that interventions be contextualized per case. Intake interviews be done before pulling them out from abode, if not suitable for home quarantine; 3.) Testing be done for family members in isolation centers considered as 1st generation contacts to flatten the curve and stop the spread; 4.) Improve coordination of the LGU Hospital Management and the Barangay Health Response Team handling the management of patient for transfer and for family member to be isolated. 5.) Assess and evaluate existing facilities to comply with basic minimum standards. Thank you.”

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