Story and photos by Rex Legayada Aguado
The Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) got another boost in its coronavirus disease 2019 (CoViD19) testing mission with another batch of supplemental equipment donated by the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) through its Philippine Genome Center (PGC Visayas).
The two cryoblocks, several micro-centrifuge racks and a digital dry bath will supplement the tools already in place at the WVMC Molecular Biology Laboratory, which is spearheading the CoViD-19 testing efforts for the entire Western Visayas region as officially designated by the Department of Health (DOH).
This latest batch of equipment will complement the other devices already lent by the UPV PGC Visayas to the WVMC on 25 March, according to Dr Victor Marco Emmanuel N. Ferriols, program director of the UPV PGC Visayas and associate professor at the UPV College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.
“The cryoblocks are used to keep reagent or sample tubes cool during preparation,” Dr Ferriols said. “The digital dry bath is used during the RNA extraction process to deactivate the virus at higher temperatures.”
The supplemental equipment, transported from the UPV Miag-ao campus to the WVMC in Mandurriao in coordination with the iAmUPHi group of UPV high school alumni, were received by Medical Technologist Cecile Resol of the WVMC Molecular Biology Laboratory.
Resol was one of the two medical technologists recently sent to the DOH’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila for proficiency assessment as part of the process to set up a CoViD19 testing center in Iloilo City.
On March 25, the UPV PGC Visayas also lent the WVMC testing center a digital dry bath and a Biorad CFX96 model of its Quantitative Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT-PCR) Machine to complement the one already in place at WVMC. The PCR Machine of the University of San Agustin C2B2 Laboratory was also set to be tapped to increase the WVMC’s CoViD-19 testing capabilities.
As reported by Daily Guardian, the PCR machines will enable WVMC to process more CoViD19 test kits to help in the rapid diagnosis and treatment of CoViD19 patients. Previously, specimens had to be sent to the RITM in Manila, with results coming in only after several days.
“The qRT-PCR Machine is the central equipment needed to conduct PCR-based tests,” Dr Ferriols said. “It is used to amplify and detect specific genetic features of the virus. The said equipment and supplies were provided to WVMC to help increase their capacity to process samples. They already had counterparts for these in-house.”
Dr Ferriols also called on the community and other institutions to support the CoViD19 frontliners amid reports that nurses, doctors and other health professionals were being discriminated against and even physically abused.
“Our [UPV] students, alumni, faculty and staff have been facilitating the manufacture of improvised face shields for our frontliners. Our stranded students in the Miag-ao dorms and boarding houses have contributed a lot for this,” Dr Ferriols said. “There have been efforts in other provinces as well through our student and alumni associations like UPV Capizeños in Capiz and UPV Negrense in Negros.”
“UPV and PGC Visayas is one with the entire Western Visayas community in our fight against this disease,” Dr Ferriols added. “We especially thank our selfless frontliners for their sacrifices and the UPV community assures them that we will always have their backs. Magbinuligay kita tanan!”