Valenzuela City Opens New Quarantine Facility in Arkong Bato
2020-09-09 
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Caption 

With the “no home quarantine” protocol strictly observed and in effect in Valenzuela City since March, the opening of a new, government-funded quarantine facility at the Arkong Bato National High School is a very welcome development for the City's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.  It could not have come at a more opportune time as the City's isolation units and isolation beds have almost reached their full capacity.

“We run close to 1,040 beds in the city, spread across 12 isolation units. ...On and off, napupuno, but now we are running to about 90% occupancy,” Mayor REX Gatchalian confirms. On September 1, he tweeted, “Salamat sa DWPH at sa IATF sa pagpapatayo ng isa pang isolation facility sa Arkong Bato. ...Dagdag sa 1,000 beds na currently being operated by the city.”

The Arkong Bato Quarantine Facility, which was inaugurated and turned over to Valenzuela City today, was completed under the COVID-19 Makeshift Quarantine Facility Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

This venture is also in keeping with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-064, otherwise known as the “Provincial/City/Municipal Special Care Facilities and Isolation Units Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic” wherein provincial, city, and municipal mayors are to identify government facilities, including public schools and state universities and colleges, to be momentarily transformed into isolation and quarantine facilities.

The new quarantine facility in Arkong Bato is one of the 23 additional isolation units fast-tracked and built by the DPWH to temporarily house patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms. Twelve container vans were repurposed and converted into 44 air-conditioned rooms, two (2) nurses' stations, one (1) radiology room, and one (1) x-ray room for this facility. Each of the 44 rooms has a hospital bed, a table, a chair, and a private comfort room. Construction of the Php 15.23M facility lasted from August 2-31, 2020.

Also present during the ribbon cutting and blessing ceremonies were Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, District 1 Councilor Rovin Andrew Feliciano, Liga ng mga Barangay President Coun. Bienvenido “Jonjon” Bartolome, Arkong Bato Punong Barangay Kap. Cristina Marie Feliciano, and DPWH Metro Manila III District Engineering Office Officer-in-Charge Engr. Allan Rey Pahimna.

Mayor REX once again expressed his gratitude to the DPWH saying, “Gusto ko pong pasalamatan ang DPWH. Sisiguraduhin ho namin na maalagaan namin [itong isolation facility] nang mabuti… We look forward to the completion of the other isolation units we requested for the Valenzuela City Emergency Hospital and Brgy.  Mapulang Lupa.”

The local chief executive is thankful also as the Polo area, Valenzuela’s renowned old town located at District 1,  now has a quarantine facility, “Napansin ko kasi na wala tayong isolation facility dito sa area. Kaya lahat ng mga nagpo-positive sa area na ito, napakalayo pa ng pinagdadalhan. So, at least we now have 44 beds na mag-o-operate once makabit fully yung kuryente dito,” he shares.


Oplan Kalinga

According to Engr. Pahimna, the decision to build more quarantine facilities stemmed from the announcement of the Department of Health (DOH) on July 14, which declared Metro Manila’s critical care capacity under danger zone.

Engr. Pahimna further explains that “70% ng hospital beds ay okupado na. So, ang Department of Public Works and Highways na pinamumunuan ni Sec. Mark Villar, ay nagdesisyon na bumuo ng karagdagang COVID-19 quarantine facilities sa iba't-ibang lugar sa National Capital Region sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating mga butihing City Mayors ng NCR. Ayon sa criteria ng Inter-Agency Task Force, dapat  may access ito sa security, electrical,  water, at food supply. Sa pakikipag-usap namin sa LGU ng Valenzuela at kay Mayor REX, ibinigay sa amin ang Arkong Bato National High School Compound para dito i-construct ang isolation facility o quarantine facility.”

The building of the Arkong Bato Quarantine Facility is part of the government's “Oplan Kalinga” program which endeavors to isolate COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic and/or those who exhibit mild symptoms to a government quarantine facility if they do not have the capability to follow home quarantine protocols.

Under the program, patients can also contact their city government and request to be fetched from their houses and brought to the quarantine facility.

According to DOH, an ideal home quarantine setup requires a dedicated room and bathroom not shared with the rest of the household. Constant monitoring of patients must also be conducted by barangay health workers.

Through the additional quarantine facilities, the DOH and DPWH aim to contain the further spread of the virus and alleviate hospital congestion, and as Valenzuela City pioneers the speedy response on setting up isolation facilities since the start of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), it is one with the national government’s promise to “heal as one” – with top-notch facilities and long-term planning into the picture of envisioning a COVID-19 free Philippines. 

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2020-09-09 | By: Janine Aguarino / Public Information Office

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