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Tabuk readies molecular lab operation: assigns lab head, BGHMC as back up in swab testing

READY TO OPERATE. The Tabuk City Council approved the request of mayor Darwin Estrañero to have the Covid-19 RT-PCR Molecular Laboratory operational by securing the expertise of a pathologist, Dr. Juanita Tucay – Lacuesta, who will not only head the lab but will also help secure the license to operate. Tabuk will also have the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center as back up to test swab samples from the city in cases of technical glitches. Photo from PIO – Tabuk

Tabuk City is close to having its own functional Covid-19 Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Molecular Laboratory after the city council recently approved the request of mayor Darwin Estrañero to secure a license to operate of said lab.

The city council led by vice mayor Bernard Glenn Dao-as has approved a measure to have the lab operational first by securing the services through a memorandum of agreement of pathologist Dr. Juanita Tucay-Lacuesta.

The doctor will see the daily operation of the laboratory in compliance to the Department of Health’s mandatory requirement in granting its license to operate.

Aside from assisting in the RT-PCR lab application for LTO and overseeing its operations, Lacuesta will also spearhead the formulation of policies and procedures as required by the DoH. She is also tasked to represent the laboratory in the planning, development, promotion and policy making and other DoH health programs.

Dao-as and the councilors also gave the go signal for the city to enter into a MOA with the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) as back up to perform testing for Covid-19 swab specimens from the city if the laboratory cannot operate due to equipment breakdown.

By entering into a MOA with BGHMC, the city is assured that testing of the city’s swab samples will not be interrupted in cases of technical problems.

Estrañero had been persistent about the establishment of said molecular laboratory due to the long waiting period of swab test results, thus people will need a longer quarantine time.

By having its own laboratory, the city reduces the hassles, expenses and risks of bringing the swab samples to the other molecular laboratories outside the province.

The city and other municipalities in the province can now speed up the release of RT-PCR test results, preventing unnecessary delays. This will also allow health workers to immediately undertake contact tracing measures of direct contacts of Covid-19 positive persons.

The establishment of the city’s own molecular laboratory was realized with the approval of Ordinance No. 09, series of 2020 in December 21, last year, authorizing the allocation of PhP15 million to fund the project under Supplemental Budget No. 06, series of 2020.

The city is the first LGU to fund and construct its own RT-PCR Molecular Laboratory in Northern Luzon and fourth in the region after BGHMC, Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital in Mountain Province and the Benguet General Hospital.

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