From staging the biggest local and international sporting events, concerts, and beauty contests, the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City was transformed into a major testing ground (RT-PCR) for COVID-19. Booths, temporary barriers, and structures have been installed and are being in use to test clients in the facility per day as it was converted into a COVID-19 mega swabbing facility as a result of initiative and partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and other agencies.
The unexpected outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic has greatly affected our country in almost every aspect of human life. Amidst this crisis, the Philippine National Police, upon the instructions of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte extends every possible assistance to the community in maintaining peace and order and assist the local government in the delivery of much-needed government services. With this, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has created a medical augmentation dubbed as the National Headquarters Medical Reserve Force (MRF), it is composed of policemen with health-related courses and professions amid the rising number of infections caused by the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
The SM MOA Management (Sy Family) has allowed the use of the events and concert venue as a testing facility, having determined that one of the best contributions and ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is thru swab testing.
During the testing procedure, clients are advised to follow an operational process. Safety and security measures within the facility are being supervised and enforced by the PNP Reactionary Standby Support Force (PNP RSSF), such as observing safe distancing/orderly queuing, wearing face masks/face shields, hand-washing, and enforcing safety protocols.
With the numerous testing booths manned by the PNP, DOH and BCDA front liners, the mega swabbing facility can accommodate thousands of tests per day. Supplies and test kits are provided by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in coordination with the BCDA. With the recent change of schedule, the facility is operational from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday, and operates even during official holidays to cater to clients who cannot avail of the test during regular days as determined by the Swabbing Facility Administrator.
Qualified walk-in clients with endorsement are being taken care in a registration booth manned by BCDA personnel assisted by six (6) proficient encoders. Pregnant women, elderly, PWDs and families with small children are given priority treatment.
Having a mega swabbing site this big is very significant in our fight against COVID-19 especially in assisting our uniformed personnel in the PNP, servicing different LEAs, different LGUs, government offices/agencies, and the general public in support to the government’s National Action Plan (NAP). With its thousands of daily testing capacity, we are assured that the increase in specimen collection capacity is matched in laboratory processing capacity.
The importance of proper tagging and encoding of specimens and the personal information (CIF) of clients being tested must be done efficiently to ensure accuracy of data to avoid delay in processing the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) in PRC molecular laboratory, a process of combining Reverse Transcription of RNA into DNA (in this context called complementary DNA or cDNA) and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This is achieved by monitoring the amplification reaction using fluorescence, a technique called real-time PCR. The Nasopharyngeal/Oropharyngeal Swab (NPS/OPS) test for COVID-19 is the most accurate and reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19. It is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you are infected at the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of the virus even after you are no longer infected.
Clients who were tested positive are being monitored by concerned LGUs and Offices and they will have to undergo isolation/quarantine and treatment. If not, they will be given a certificate that will allow them to go home to their families and respective provinces. However, they will still need to undergo home quarantine under close monitoring by their LGU.
Operating and managing a Mega Swabbing Facility is such a very challenging role in a unique situation of crisis where everyone is caught unprepared. The initial days of scarcity and training of medical personnel were addressed to attain confidence and proficiency in the performance of given tasks. Safety protocols were then created as a guide on how to prevent, contain and control the transmission of disease inside the facility and eventually coming up with a Manual of Operating Procedures authored by the Facility Administrator, a nurse by profession from the PNP Health Service for the safe and efficient obtainment of the specimen and the skillful management of the facility and its personnel. It is the first operating manual ever-created and being applauded by the Office of the President by no less than the Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea extending his highest commendation to the PNP Medical Reserve Force.
The Facility Management Team has effectively addressed inevitable emergency health situations/ conditions such as nose bleeding, reducing mandibular dislocation (lockjaw), and assisting normal delivery to a pregnant woman that transpired within the facility.
This unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has placed our MRF/DOH front liners under enormous and extraordinary pressure, putting their physical, mental, and social well-being at risk, exposing them to excessive stress and can have many harmful consequences on their emotional and mental well-being. Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa made mention in his letter of commendation that the danger that our front liners face every day as they fight the unseen enemy is far greater than the danger of running after or confronting criminal elements.
The PNP Medical Reserve Force has been committed to serving the country with its mandate for more than a year now as pioneer medical front liners and last February, its management was then transferred under the PNP Health Service. The PNP Medical Reserve Force (MRF) under the guidance and direction of PBGEN LUISITO MAGNAYE as the Director of PNP Health Service and at the same time the MRF Commander remains optimistic with its endeavor in partnership with BCDA, DOH, and the Philippine Red Cross with the active support among stakeholders.