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First COVID-19 patient admission in PH drives hospital expansion for infectious diseases

The San Lazaro Hospital (SLH), the first in the country to admit a COVID-19 patient, is now gearing up to expand its services to meet challenges posed by emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Last October 18, SLH was conferred the Performance Governance System (PGS) Initiated Status during the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) Public Revalida, bagging a Silver Trailblazer Award.

ISA’s Public Revalida is a democratic exercise that validates the thriving completion of the four stages of the PGS, ISA’s good governance program, where enrolled organizations, including the Department of Health (DOH), Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Department of Trade and Industry, showcase their progress in their transformation journey. In 2019, San Lazaro Hospital started its PGS journey, reshaping its vision to closely align with the DOH strategy. 

Dr. Edmundo B. Lopez, SLH Medical Center Chief, outlined their goals and strategic direction, highlighting the institution’s aspiration to ensure better health outcomes, more responsive health systems, and more equitable healthcare financing.

“From a national referral center of infectious diseases, national reference laboratory for HIC, and other sexually transmitted infections, we will have expanded health and diagnostic services, training, and research capabilities for infectious disease and tropical medicine at par with global standards by 2025,” Dr. Lopez said in his presentation.

In 2020, the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, a 38-year-old Chinese national, was admitted to the SLH, giving the institution a first-hand experience of how the pandemic quickly and severely disrupted essential health services.  

“It highlighted the importance of readiness in the face of emerging and re-emerging diseases, which have the most potential for pandemics of such magnitude,” Dr. Lopez said. 

Furthermore, this initiative is firmly rooted in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, which embodies the commitment to end the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other communicable diseases by 2030.

Under its Patient Care Roadmap, SLH is poised to broaden its scope by enhancing Kit evaluation for molecular-based testing for HIV and STIs. Additionally, the institution aims to establish clinical pathways for priority diseases with significant public health implications, such as Ebola and Monkeypox, while expanding adult and pediatric immunization efforts.

Renowned for its research contributions in Rabies, TB, HIV, COVID-19, measles, and diphtheria, SLH remains committed to sustaining its research roadmap, which will play a pivotal role in developing and refining infectious disease programs and policy guidelines.

“Further we will expand coverage of other research by including the nursing services as research proponent in the field of infectious disease nursing,” Dr. Lopez added.

Despite being in the initial stage of the governance pathway, the institution has already achieved notable milestones, including functionalizing the emerging and re-emerging infectious disease facilities and services during the pandemic, as well as published research findings in the areas of IDTM, COVID-19, and non-COVID-19 related research endeavors.

Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center Medical Center Chief and Panel Chair Dr. Glory Baltazar commended SLH, lauding its comprehensive roadmap. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Lopez expressed gratitude to the ISA, their Office for Strategy Management, and the good men and women of SLH.

“We look forward to realizing San Lazaro Hospital as a national specialty center for infectious diseases for tropical medicine,” he said. “We will play our major role in enabling the establishment of regional tropical disease centers under the resource-stratified framework for infectious diseases.”