Batangas town opens its own molecular laboratory

From left, Mabini Municipal Health Officer Dr. Melanio Ramir P. Beloso, Jinky Luistro, Dr. Jovit Royales and Mabini Vice Mayor Jun Villanueva at the inauguration of the Mabini Community Hospital Molecular Laboratory.

MABINI, Batangas—A two-hour drive from Manila, this town of Mabini, Batangas is probably famous for two things. The first is that the town derives its name from Apolinario Mabini, the spokesman and the brain of the Philippine Revolution.

The second is that it is home to the tourist and dive destination of Anilao. It lies on a peninsula overlooking Batangas and Balayan Bay and is considered to be the birthplace of the Philippine’s scuba driving industry.

Mabini’s proximity to Manila proved to be advantageous to the growth of tourism in the area, making it the nearest equivalent to beach and diving spots like Boracay or Puerto Galera.

There is a latest addition to the list of things that Mabini will be known for. It will now be known as the home of the Mabini Community Hospital Molecular Laboratory, one of only a handful of molecular laboratories in the province of Batangas.

New facility

Community hospitals do not sit well with Filipinos. Pictures of dilapidated equipment, buildings that are in need of repair and the lack of medical facilities come to mind. What makes this 18-bed hospital different is that it is a very new facility as it was only inaugurated last year.

The hospital is also a product of what may be called a “public-private partnership” as two of the hospital buildings were sponsored by San Miguel Corp. through the Petron Foundation. The same could be said of the molecular laboratory which was a partnership between the local government of Mabini and Dr. Jovit Royales, owner of Best Care Medical Clinic and Diagnostic Center.

According to Dr. Royales, who is a cardiologist based in Valenzuela, there was a need for Mabini to have its own testing center because the samples would be brought Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa and it would take days before the results are released.

“Since it is a pandemic, we really see the need for the laboratory. The local government units [LGUs] should be empowered to have their own testing centers because they send their samples to RITM,” Dr. Royales noted.

“We really have to decongest RITM and make the testing faster so we came up with the project to partner with the LGU through a public-private partnership agreement where the private sector will construct, apply, have it licensed and operate the molecular laboratory at no cost to the government,” he added.

Present during the inauguration were, among others, Jinky Luistro, the wife of Mabini Mayor Noel B. Luistro, Mabini Vice Mayor Jun Villanueva and Municipal Health Officer for Mabini Dr. Melanio Ramir P. Beloso.

Next goal

In her remarks, Luistro said she was very grateful to the private sector for the support they have extended to Mabini. She added that their next goal is to construct private rooms so that they will be able to cater to constituents who can afford to pay for medical services.

“The opening of this molecular laboratory is a welcome development. We will be able to ensure that our community, especially those who work here, are healthy and safe from Covid-19,” she said. “The hospital caters to the people of Mabini, Bauan and Tingloy Island but we expect to serve more with the molecular laboratory.” Initially, the RT-PCR test will be offered at P3,500 with the results available in 12 to 24 hours.

“My fist goal is to help the community eradicate this virus and I saw that they needed help in testing. So anything we can offer, we give it to the LGU. It is grassroots empowerment because the LGU should be empowered to fight this disease. This was the inspiration behind this project,” Dr. Royales reiterated.

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