Batac hospital Covid-19 test results back within 72 hours

LAOAG CITY — With Ilocos Norte’s rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the past days, the state-run Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMH&MC) has assured the public that its turnaround time (TAT) for testing and releasing of swab results are now back on target at 48 to 72 hours.

This comes after the hospital released a public statement last August 6 when it temporarily suspended the swab testing for walk-in patients due to the influx of samples to be tested from both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur which averaged to at least 200 specimens per day for each province thereby negatively affecting the TAT.

Dr. Modesty Leaño, head of MMMH&MC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratories, however, explained that they were immediately able to catch-up with the delays in the release of the results by implementing several corrective measures.

“Since August 10, we were able to overcome all our backlogs and we are back on track with the 48 to 72 hours’ turnaround time for our RT-PCR testing, which is the gold standard in diagnostic confirmation for people who might have contracted COVID-19,” Leaño said on Friday.

Following public clamor across social media over the delay in the release of results, Leaño also sought for understanding and cooperation as the “testing for the disease is more complex and the matter of reporting continues to evolve in light of the increasing number of cases”.

Other corrective measures implemented to address the delays in releasing of the results included the 24-hour operation from Mondays to Fridays of the hospital’s Molecular Laboratory as well as the strengthening of the partnership of the hospital with provincial and municipal health offices.

“The Provincial Health Office and Provincial Department of Health–Ilocos Norte are now responsible for releasing the results to respective individuals and municipalities and we also ironed out the process of receiving samples from them,” Leaño added.

Faced with various challenges since MMMH&MC’s Molecular Laboratory was inaugurated last June, Leaño assured the public that the hospital’s management has been doubling its efforts to streamline the processes in possible anticipation as well of a new wave in the spread of the disease.

With this, Dr. Maria Lourdes K. Otayza, MMMH&MC’s Medical Center Chief II, shared how the hospital’s management is coming up with plans to become more prepared in dealing with a possible second wave during the “Bangon Luzon” online forum held by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) on Friday.

Far from being disheartened by the limitations and hesitations from medical communities when it comes to the Covid-19 response, Otayza remained hopeful mostly on how the pandemic has become another training ground for a new type of leadership.

“We know that this disease will keep coming out and that guidelines will be changed and developed and I hope, with MMMH&MC as the sole tertiary hospital in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, that we will be able to design a quick response mechanism base on scientific protocols,” she said.
At present, Ilocos Norte has four active Covid-19 cases out of 35 confirmed. Michael Mugas / PNA –