August 17, 2020

Chancellor’s Message to the UP Diliman Community

Dear UP Diliman Community Members,

Last Aug. 15, 2020, we officially opened Silungang Molave (SiM), the isolation facility that will serve our community. At this time, SiM has 39 beds ̶ 20 beds allotted for mild COVID-19 cases and 19 beds for those who have been exposed and awaiting their test results. We will expand the number of beds as the need arises. The facility will prioritize UP constituents and residents of our Barangay.

The opening of SiM is part of our recalibrated strategic response to the pandemic. In the last weeks, we have seen the growing number of cases in Barangay UP Campus, but no place to send patients for care and healing. While our UP Health Service-Public Health Unit (UPHS-PHU) has been working double time to monitor cases, it had the challenging task of finding isolation places for the sick in our community. With facilities in the city already full, many of the sick have had to stay home and risked exposing their families.

Silungang Molave is a response to the urgent need for a community-based facility where our members can get proper care. In SiM, those who cannot self-isolate at home will have a place where they can recuperate. It is also a place where the sick could rest without worrying that they may be exposing their loved ones to the virus. As a public health strategy, it will enable us to isolate the sick to prevent the virus from further spreading.

I am aware that the repurposing of Molave Dorm into an isolation facility has caused anxiety among a few of our constituents. Given the uncertain situation, this is understandable. But, we have consulted epidemiologists and biosafety experts who assure us that having the facility inside the campus does not pose a risk to UP Diliman. We remind the community that COVID-19 is transmitted mainly through droplets and by direct contact. It does not travel long distances through the air and cannot reach our residences in this manner. Airborne transmission occurs mostly in enclosed settings.

Our experience in running Kanlungang Palma, our first isolation facility which closed on July 11, 2020, has also given us lessons. We have taken these to heart, as we proceeded with Silungang Molave. As a first step, we created a special committee that reviewed the operations of Kanlungang Palma and the UPHS. The committee, which includes an infectious disease expert from the Philippine General Hospital, recommended measures that will prevent future outbreaks and ensure the safety of our health care workers. This same committee will also be closely monitoring the operations of SiM in the coming months.

Apart from instituting these internal mechanisms, SiM went through the proper Department of Health (DOH) accreditation process and is under the technical supervision of the Quezon City Health Department. The DOH will also be monitoring the facility.

In preparing the facility, our UPHS has hired four more doctors and three nurses to take care of patients. In addition, the isolation facility will have a full staff: a facility manager, sanitary inspector, food servers and maintenance staff who will attend to the health needs of patients as they move towards a quicker recovery.

I wish to thank our UPHS and the UP Diliman COVID-19 Task Force for working tirelessly these past weeks to get Silungang Molave ready for our community.

Lastly, as part of the national university, UP Diliman is called upon to fulfill its commitment to serve the larger community. Taking care of the sick and vulnerable is part of this responsibility. One member’s vulnerability is the community’s vulnerability.

Fidel R. Nemenzo
Chancellor