The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with the support of private firms EEI Construction and the Villar Group have started converting the Forum Halls of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to accommodate mild to moderate cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Secretary Mark Villar announced that materials and manpower resources are now at the PICC Forum Tent site as there is an urgent need to prepare new health care facilities to cope with the upward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases. The use of public buildings as medical facilities aim to decongest hospitals in Metro Manila and reserve hospital beds for more severe cases.

“Time is not on our side anymore with the exponential increase in the number of patients”, said Villar.

With Villar’s instructions, DPWH Undersecretary and Head of the Task Force on Augmentation of Healthcare Facilities Emil Sadain said six smart houses (outdoor) will be also installed for medical personnel at the PICC Complex.

Planning and coordination with Dr. Leonita Gorgolon of Department of Health (DOH) and Architect Dan Lichauco of the UP-Philippine General Hospital were made by the DPWH to allow a smooth and expeditious implementation of the project and to ensure that the partitions to be constructed at PICC Forum site will conform with the requirements of medical professionals, Sadain said.

DPWH National Capital Region Director Ador Canlas together with the technical support of Directors Ernesto Gregorio Jr., Eric Ayapana, and Aristarco Doroy of the maintenance, construction and design bureaus of the Department are leading the construction activities at the PICC.

“I am confident that the DPWH-EEI-Villar Group team working 24/7 is more than capable to finish quickly the conversion works at the PICC Forum Tent.”

Villar said he is confident that the DPWH-EEI-Villar Group team working 24/7 is more than capable of finishing quickly the conversion works at the PICC.

“DPWH service frontliners, like the health workers, have to sacrifice their lives for the nation to heal as one.”

He also expressed admiration for workers of the DPWH who are working as service frontliners.

Meanwhile, 40 workers of EEI Construction are now deployed at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum to expedite its ongoing conversion into a COVID-19 facility, also for patients with mild cases or those who are asymptomatic. The EEI project is being handled by the Razon Group.

The Ayala Group is also busy converting the World Trade Center (WTC) into a COVID-19 medical facility, with the design-lay out having been approved by Architect Lichauco of the UP-PGH.

Sadain said daily monitoring of health conditions of the workers, including but not limited to temperature checks, health checklists, and exposure checklists, are among the construction protocols now being implemented in the three work sites.

Sharing of hand tools and power tools is also discouraged and regular disinfection are practiced at the work areas while workers who have pre-existing health conditions including those who are above 60 years of age were not allowed to work in the sites so as not to compromise their immune systems.

Villar said it would take at least 10 days for the health facilities at the PICC and the WTC to be built, and about a week at the Rizal Coliseum site.

Once completed, the DOH will then manage the operation of the completed health facilities with possible assistance from private health care providers, Villar said.


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