PNP Deputy Chief for Administration and concurrent commander of the PNP Administrative Support to COVID-19 Operations Task Force, Lieutenant Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan yesterday said he has ordered PNP Health Service director Brig. Gen. Herminio S. Tadeo Jr. to fully address complaints regarding their handling of COVID-19 patients.
The official was reacting to a complaint that the 10th fatality who was from the PNP Internal Affairs Service sought treatment at the PNP General Hospital but was advised to transfer to a private hospital.
The official was forced to go to another Quezon City government hospital where he passed away a day after reportedly being turned away at the PNP-GH. Colleagues of the victim who is assigned at the PNP-IAS office in Camp Karingal aired their grievance to the Journal Group.
Cascolan said he has also asked Tadeo to address complaints about the foul nauseating odor from a chemical disinfectant regularly being sprayed at the PNP Taekwondo Gym in Camp Crame where scores of Suspected and Probable PUIs are undergoing quarantine.
Similar complaints have been addressed at the Kiangan billeting center which has been also converted into a quarantine facility for the police.
Sources said that police uniformed and non-uniformed personnel undergoing quarantine inside the PNP Taekwondo Gym have to bear with nausea and forced to sleep with their masks on as a result of the bad smell from the disinfectant being sprayed regularly in the area every day.
Cascolan was designated by PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa to ensure efficient delivery of administrative support to ongoing operations of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield.
The task force headed by the PNP’s number 2 official is composed of five function task groups including the Task Group Health Management and Medical Reserve Force formed to address health-related issues in the operations of Joint Task Force COVID Shield and provide real-time monitoring of status of PNP personnel affected by the virus.
Last June, the PNP launched an investigation into the death of one of their doctors, Captain Casey Gutierrez due to exposure to hazardous chemicals "while performing routine decontamination."
Gutierrez died last May 30, nearly a week after being exposed to toxic disinfectant while on duty at the PNP-managed COVID-19 facility located at the former Ultra Sports Complex in Pasig City.
Two other members of the medical team, Staff Sergeant Steve Rae Salamanca and Corporal Runie Toledo also suffered from chemical inhalation and were brought to the PNP General Hospital.
The three were performing routine decontamination procedure in the evening of May 24 when they accidentally sprayed concentrated decontamination solution (sodium hypochlorite) that caused them irritation and difficulty in breathing.
The PNP-ASCOTF had noted that the two PNP-managed quarantine facilities, the PSA-TTMF and the Philippine International Convention Center, have different chemical disinfectant providers although the disinfectant being used by the providers are hypoallergenic and biodegradable.
Gen. Gamboa this week said they are also coming up with more quarantine centers and testing hubs soon to cater to members of the force who have contracted the dreaded COVID-19 virus and need to undergo isolation and treatment.
At the same time, the PNP chief ordered the PNP Health Service to implement stricter measures in all PNP-operated quarantine facilities and testing centers to prevent the further spread of the unseen virus.
Helping prevent the spread of the virus by fully enforcing health measures such as wearing of face masks, curfew hours and social distancing is also taking its toll on the national police which since last March have put up Quarantine Control Points in Metro Manila and the rest of the country to check health protocol violators.
At present, the PNP is already operating and managing seven quarantine and testing facilities in the country as part of supportive healthcare system for police front-liners who are involved in the government’s own battle against the pandemic.
Gen. Gamboa said these quarantine facilities and testing centers are duly accredited and approved by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
The government quarantine facility inside the Ultra sports facility in Pasig City is now catering to 103 patients and has 29 more available rooms. On the other hand, 107 patients are now at the Philippine International Convention Center quarantine center which has 186 available rooms to date..
The NHQ PNP COVID-19 Patient Care Center located at the Camp Crame Kiangan Billeting Center has already admitted 25 PNP personnel and still has 17 available rooms while the 46-bed capacity Taekwondo quarters in Camp Crame has admitted eight personnel.
Still to be used is the Camp Crame Transformation Oval quarantine facility which was inaugurated last April 30 to house police personnel who have contracted the virus.
The facility which has a 120-bed capacity is equipped with facilities such as a nurse station, shower and bath and hand-wash area. However, the PNP added air-conditioning system to the facility built thru the auspices of SM Foundation amid findings that its air-conditioners were not enough to keep patients comfortable specifically during ‘very hot days.’