Each O.B. Montessori campus can accommodate 40 to 50 people. “But if the need increases, we will do our best to accommodate more,” says Sara Soliven, COO of OBMC. (Sta. Ana Campus)
Culture Spotlight

These institutions are opening their spaces as refuge to COVID-19 frontliners

Every room counts. By BAM ABELLON
| Mar 28 2020

Our healthcare workers are still in dire need of support. While the private sector is working to provide them with PPEs (personal protective equipment), and nourishment via meals, the workers need temporary homes so they can minimize travel time after long and arduous days at work. 

Dr. Joven Cuanang, neurologist and former medical director of St. Luke’s Medical Center, appealed to Catholic churches and Catholic-run establishments and facilities early this week to open their doors to healthcare workers—some of whom have been evicted from their homes because their landlords fear contagion. In a country where Catholics are somewhere in the 80 million mark, these establishments abound in the metro.

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“The Church has room. The Church has hospitals,” Dr. Cuanang wrote. “We know the Catholic Church is praying for its flock and feeding the poor. Might we suggest that the Catholic Church allow its churches to be used as temporary housing and additional facilities for the frontliners? And maybe, Cardinal Santos, San Juan de Dios, and other Church-run hospitals could install COVID-19 testing equipment?

“If there was ever a ‘No room at the inn’ situation, this is it.”

Immediately after he posted the plea, the calls poured in, Dr. Cuanang told ANCX.

The Mother house: OB Montessori Greenhills. Photo from the official website

The Operation Brotherhood (O.B.) Montessori Center (OBMC) have offered their five campuses: Greenhills, San Juan; Sta. Ana, Manila; Fairview, Quezon City; Las Piñas City; and Angeles City.

“All OBMC campuses are empty right now, possibly until April 15,” Sara Soliven De Guzman, chief operating officer for OBMC, told ANCX. “There are no personnel and students, only security guards, who man the campuses.” Which means there is no risk of exposing their staff and students to the virus.

When the quarantine is lifted they will sanitize the school for a week before allowing anyone to enter. They will also be following the COVID-19 entry protocols. “Our School Year is about to end. If the quarantine period is extended, students will not return until probably July or August,” she adds. 

As of Friday, none of the hospitals have coordinated with them, but if the frontliners decide to use their facilities as a temporary dormitory, the OBMC team will coordinate with the barangays and the mayors to get clearance. “We already have a team to monitor, sanitize, and assist the frontliners from entry point,” Soliven said, giving her assurance. “The team will also take care of the sanitation area, set up the dorm or restroom floor, the eating area—all of which are isolated from the rest of the school.”

Aside from this, the school has already established the hygiene, desensitizing, and safety protocols for their team and for the frontliners who will enter their campuses during this time. They have even prepared personal hygiene and care bags for each frontliner. The clothes of the healthcare workers will be desensitized when they enter the school grounds, after which they will be given a change of clothing. Meals will also be provided.

As the OBMC team is limiting the risk of exposure to the virus, only registered frontliners will be allowed inside the campuses, and no member of the OBMC community will be allowed to enter, except for the skeletal work force:  an officer who will monitor everyone, a male and a female utility worker, and two guards. Some members of the team, who are currently working from home, will be on standby in case more employees are needed.

Each campus can accommodate 40 to 50 people.  

Healthcare workers working near Tandang Sora may opt to stay at the newly-built MyRainbow Dormitory for free. Photo from the official Facebook page

Soliven, however, clarifies that they still have to follow the Department of Education’s ruling on using school facilities as the last resort, in case there are no other facilities available. Right now, for Quezon City, for example, MyRainbow Place Dormitory in Tandang Sora, opened its doors to healthcare workers, so their slots must be filled before the schools in the area can be used.

“We are preparing our facilities, and anytime they can call us because we’re ready,” Soliven adds. “Operation Brotherhood Montessori Center is here to help and act as one with the Filipino people.”

 

The plea continues

Having learned of Cuanang’s shoutout, Caloocan Bishop Pablo “Ambo” David got in touch with the former and then made a series of calls to different Catholic establishments.

Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo is now coordinating with different Catholic agencies and hospitals in the city. Right now, Catholic institutions in Manila such as Paco Catholic School, De La Salle University, St. Scholastica’s College, etc. are already providing shelter for street people, especially at night.

The De La Salle University campus has served as a temporary shelter for homeless people since the quarantine was implemented. Photo from the official website

For the healthcare workers, Malate Catholic School is already communicating with doctors of the Philippine General Hospital to say they can accommodate 10 to 12 health workers in the area. Ermita Catholic School, which can take in up to 12 people, has already talked with Manila Doctors Hospital. The Holy Child Catholic School, Nazarene Catholic School, and the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center are also preparing their facilities for use.

“Kailangan mag-usap ang director ng schools at director ng hospital,” Bishop Pabillo tells ANCX. “For the guidelines, ang pag-sanitize, ’yong hospital ’yong may alam. Hindi ito quarantine. We’re giving space, kasi kailangan ng mga workers magpahinga at kailangan may mauuwian sila.”

Because school had been suspended, there are no people in the dormitories now except for Ermita Catholic School’s where some members of the staff reside. “Kaya kailangan din may assurance from the hospital na maayos naman.”

“We’re making it known na handa kami to give the healthcare workers space.”

The RVM Sisters of St. Mary’s College has also offered their dormitories for the frontliners of the Capitol Medical Center.