The first bio-safe Swab Mobile sampling unit in the Philippines was launched in Bacolod City today, Thursday, 7 May.
The Swab Mobile is aimed at helping ensure the protection of medical front-liners as they extract specimens during swab tests, a press release from the Bacolod PIO said.
One unit of Swab Mobile, costing around P1 million, was turned over by the donors, namely, the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BFCCCI), the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Junior Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bacolod Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade, to the Bacolod City government.
“This Swab Mobile can be used for our joint campaign to intervene the health status of our constituents,” BFCCCI executive vice president Clifford Uy said at the turnover rites.
Representing the city were Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Cong. Greg Gasataya, Councilors Renecito Novero, Simple Distrito, Archie Baribar, and Bartolome Orola, and City Administrator Em Ang.
“This is the first bio-safe Swab Mobile in the Philippines and this was proudly made in Bacolod City,” Loren Kara Leonardia, daughter of the Bacolod mayor, said at the launching and turnover rites at the Bacolod City Government Center. She also thanked the Junior Chamber for their additional donations of PPEs which will be used as consumables for the swab mobile.
Kara initiated the project, in partnership with Engr. Rane Joseph Saril, who provided the technical expertise to create it, and his son Engr. Pierce Allesandro Saril, both of RJPS Industries; and Engr. Rommel Carisma of Flow Engineering for the engineering drawings.
Local businesses such as JMC Bacolod, Bacolod Polaris Enterprises, CT Glass, and Robiank Marketing and Advertising had also helped construct the Mobile Unit.
The second Swab Mobile, also costing about P1 million, will be donated by BioPower Group by next week.
Mayor Leonardia said, “This will help protect health workers from being exposed unnecessarily during specimen extraction.”
“Instead of letting the patient go to the hospital for a swab test the CHO staff will go to the area of the patients.”
Saril shared that they used a mobile unit during the SARS outbreak to help protect health workers from being exposed during sampling. This came from the observation that when a patient goes to the hospital for testing they are exposed to up to nine health workers, putting the medical staff’s health at risk.
With this unit, they can limit the exposure to only two health workers who would be further protected by the biosecurity measures in place within the van.
Dr. Julius Drilon, medical center chief of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital that is located in Bacolod, said the project is in line with the construction of the regional hospital’s bio-laboratory scheduled to operate this June.
While the bio-lab is still being constructed, the CHO will be able to use these units when they go on their contact-tracing missions, freeing up the use of ambulances which were their prior mode of transportation. The ambulances can then be disinfected and put back to use for other emergencies.
Saril said the mobile lab’s physical aspect may be easily replicated but emphasized that it is the bio-safety measure that is the most important part in the making. A series of testings and a final validation based on industry standards must be done before a unit is deemed safe for use, he added.
Saril, the lead supervisor of this project, is a mechanical and bio-medical engineer with 20 years of experience in creating bio-safe labs and facilities all in Asia and the Pacific. He helped during the SARS and H1N1 outbreak. He had decided to come home for good just last year. By coincidence, Kara had been introduced to the engineer while she was working on sanitation chambers last month.
Kara had pushed for this project because she was alarmed by the number of doctors and nurses who had succumbed to COVID-19 in Manila during the earlier weeks of the pandemic. She also hopes that the Swab Mobile will give our health workers confidence that they are kept safe as they go about their duties when swabbing for samples.
When asked why he decided to work on the project, Engineer Saril said, “With all the experience I’ve had aboard for so many years, it’s time to come home and put it to use here. I feel lucky to have the chance to help.”
The city government thanked the donors of the Swab Mobile unit:
Willy Au, Alfredo Barcelona, Alfonso Choa, James Chua, and Romie Cortez
Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Executive Vice President Clifford Uy, Charlton Ong, Mark Gomez, Alex Uy, and Eisen Uy
Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Junior Chamber of Commerce and Industry—Fonsella Kae Choa – president, Katrina Camille Lopue, Frederick Alain Yap, Jose Victor Lo-Henares II, and Kristina Marie Fregil
Bacolod Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade—Jose Tan Jr. – assistant fire chief, Atty. Manuel Ong, Stephen Sy, and Arthur Yap
Patrick Go of JMC Bacolod, Arthur Yap of Bacolod Polaris Enterprises, Mark Yu of CT Glass, and Stephen Sy of Robiank Marketing and Advertising.*/CITY PIO