Issue of September 6, 2020
Mt. Province
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BGHMC lab ready to keep up with COVID-19 testing speed
by Rimaliza A. Opiña with reports from Ofelia C. Empian

The Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center molecular laboratory can keep up with its pace in processing swab samples despite the imminent return of one polymerase chain reaction and automatic RNA extractor machines to the Benguet General Hospital.

“BGHMC will still be able to accommodate the number of samples submitted to us,” said Dr. Leamor Fangonilo, head of the hospital’s Public Health Unit in a recent news briefing.

The BGHMC molecular and pathological laboratory tests an average of 600 samples daily without backlog. In one week, the lab processes a maximum of 2,000 samples.

Fangonilo said they will still be able process an average of 1,500 samples even if it has one less machine PCR machine.

The BGHMC molecular lab uses a total of six PCR machines, plus one automatic RNA extractor machine. One PCR machine and the extractor are owned by BeGH and will have to be returned when its own molecular lab begin operating this September.

From 200 to 300 tests daily, BGHMC increased its testing capacity to 600 daily last May after the hospital administration hired additional medical technologists, pathologists, and encoders, plus the acquisition of more PCR machines.

Construction of BeGH molecular laboratory is nearing completion and the technical aspects in the operation of the laboratory such as training of its medical technologists have been completed, according to Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas.

Diclas said the hospital administration, officials of the provincial government, and Benguet caretaker Eric Yap have yet to discuss if they will get back the machines lent to the BGHMC. He said if corporate donors such as SN Aboitiz donate another PCR machine to BeGH, there might be no need to get back the PCR machines at the BGHMC.

Diclas said Yap has agreed in principle to leave the machines in Baguio but this has yet to be discussed at length.

In the meantime, Diclas said a list of items needed for the full operation of the BeGH lab has been submitted to Yap for purchase.

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