Built in seven days, May 5 to 11, a 15-bed emergency quarantine facility (EQF) was turned over yesterday, May 12, to The Medical City (TMC) Pasig, one of the first hospitals to receive an influx of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.
This is the second EQF donated by Unity in Isolation (U ’n I), a charity group formed in March to construct Safetest Isolation Tents in major hospitals across the country. The first is part of a complex for COVID-19 patients in TMC South Luzon completed last week.
“Although other hospitals have shared the load, TMC Pasig still needs a Safetest Isolation Tent to help triage and quarantine patients suspected to have COVID-19,” said Dr. Beatrice Tiongco, who spearheads U ’n I.
Costing P500,000 with a footprint of 6 by 26 m, the Safetest Tent was made by reinforcing the original EQF design of a Filipino firm, WTA Architecture, which uploaded schemes and specs free for anyone to use.
“Speed is, indeed, crucial in identifying and isolating,” said Martin Leyeza of ComWorks Inc., which is part of U ’n I. “Within a few weeks in April, hospitals reached maximum capacity. The need for field hospitals and test centers became increasingly crucial.”
A phone call and a COVID-19 case led U ’n I to help.
Axel Kornerup, resident entrepreneur of InterVenn Biosciences Inc., called Leyeza, his partner in advocacies, “to contribute to this unprecedented crisis by providing the most impact with available resources.” InterVenn is a San Francisco-based biotech company using artificial intelligence (AI)-driven holistic approach to biomarker discovery.
In the meantime, Leyeza was still self-isolating after bringing his sister, Cynthia Cabrera, a COVID-19 survivor, to the hospital mid-March. He witnessed front-liners—doctors, nurses, health-care assistants—struggling to attend to patients. Suspected cases, mostly the elderly, spilled out of hospital emergency rooms.
Moved by the situation, Leyeza quickly teamed up with Kornerup and Dr. Tiangco, CEO of Cancer Registry Philippines, to form U ’n I.
Dr. Tiongco, also a member of the board of directors of TMC Pasig, “is the logical choice to head the charity group for the Safetest Isolation Tent since she can bridge the hospital’s needs and U ‘n l resources with the goal of using the tents post-pandemic,” said Maite Tarrayo, Leyeza’s daughter.
They tweaked the design and renamed it Safetest Isolation Tent “since the group can provide a testing facility and testing kits should the partner hospital require. We are not just building tents, we are in close coordination with hospital needs beyond COVID-19. The tents will be used for cancer screening programs of the hospitals in the Cancer Care Network,” Tarrayo explained.
Next week’s target is Bicol, a region with rising COVID-19 cases. U ’n I is partnering with two Cancer Care Network partner hospitals and donors led by ComWorks. Bicol happens to be the hometown of Leyeza’s wife, Mely, who died of cancer a few years ago.
Dr. Tiongco’s nationwide Cancer Care Registry has a network of hospitals in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to supplement government and private health-care initiatives for the Filipino people.
“InterVenn provides various assistance, website, payment gateway setup for donations. The programmers have generously donated out of their own pockets to U ’n I,” said Kornerup.
McCormick Philippines, through CEO Steven Sy, is one of the first organizations who donated to the cause. So did NetSolar, a clean energy company, through CEO/founder Paulo Concio.
The COVID-19 testing kits are purchased from Manila HealthTek Inc. of Dr. Raul Destura, the Filipino scientist who developed the low-cost kits.
BCD Pinpoint, the only full-service direct marketing agency in the Philippines, provided concepts and strategies through founder J. Richard Soriano.
Tuason Development Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Hijo Resources Corp., in Madaum, Tagum City, will lead efforts to network with hospitals in Mindanao.
“In Wuhan, a landlocked province in Hubei, China, a single 1,000 bed quarantine facility was built,” said Dr. Tiongco. “U ‘n l, with our growing number of partners, aims to build separate 15-bed tents in COVID-19 hotspots across our archipelago, but with a single goal of separating the infected from the uninfected in order to flatten the curve.” —CONTRIBUTED INQ