SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Government officials on Wednesday (April 14) inaugurated a treatment and monitoring facility for patients infected with the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the former Cubi Hospital complex, a sprawling, gated compound deep in the forest of Ilanin East here.
The “We Heal As One Center”, which was designed to increase the country’s healthcare system surge capacity and allow hospitals In Manila to care for patients with medium to severe symptoms, is housed at the 12-hectare campus of The Manila Times College of Subic, Inc., which includes the former U.S. Naval Hospital.
This Covid-19 wellness center and temporary treatment and monitoring facility is an inter-agency cooperation project of the Department of Health (DOH), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital (JBLMGH), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
In the inauguration rites, BCDA President Vince Dizon said the “We Heal As One Center” will eventually have a 500-bed capacity from the present 371 beds, plus 100 beds that will be available at the hospital, which can take in patients with severe symptoms.
He added that the facility will benefit patients not only from the Subic Bay and Central Luzon areas, but also from Manila where occupancy rate in government hospitals is already breaking limits.
“In fact, I’ve already received calls from a lot of local government units that wanted to know if they can bring patients here,” Dizon revealed.
In the same occasion, SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma pledged another 34 hospital beds to be transferred from the care and isolation facility that the SBMA put up last year at the Subic Gym, which became a DOH-certified community isolation unit for Covdi-19 cases on July 29, 2020.
“This will be SBMA’s contribution to this national effort,” Eisma said.
She added that with the operation of the Covid-19 wellness center at Cubi, the SBMA has been granted its request that a dedicated number of beds will be allotted for Subic Freeport stakeholders, including residents, business locators and SBMA employees.
“Tulong-tulong tayo rito (We will help each other in this project),” Eisma also said.
Prior to this, Eisma has defended the mega isolation facility project after some Subic stakeholders feared that it might lead to more Covid-19 exposure among local residents and workers.
The SBMA chief also assured stakeholders that the remote location of the facility, as well as strict health protocols observed in Subic, would ensure the safety of everyone.
To this, Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) president Benjamin Antonio III agreed, saying that the location of the facility “provides a conducive environment for individuals who would need to be isolated because of the COVID-19 virus.”
Antonio said he was “quite confident in the arrangements our government will institute to protect our community, since the complex is well-guarded and fenced, and our healthcare workers are some of the best trained.”
“Moreover, I know that the stakeholders of the Subic Bay Freeport would take this as an opportunity to provide help to our countrymen. We cannot disconnect ourselves from their sufferings. We persistently speak of compassion—now is the chance to display it,” he added.