CONTINUITY CARE. Dr. Ferchito Avelino, DOH-Bicol assistant regional director (left) and Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua (center) lead the opening of the Newborn Screening (NBS) Satellite Continuity Clinic at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC) in Virac, Catanduanes. The EBMC is the first local government unit-run hospital in Bicol to have an NBS continuity clinic. (Photo courtesy of DOH-Bicol)

LEGAZPI CITY – At least 22 children from Catanduanes will now have access to long-term care after the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) and Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC) opened the Newborn Screening (NBS) Satellite Continuity Clinic in Virac town.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Sarah Mae Magtangob, NBS regional program manager, said the EBMC is the first-ever hospital run by a local government unit (LGU) in the Bicol Region to have such a facility.

"The clinic will give patients with confirmed NBS disorder the necessary continuity care. Kailangan po continuous po sila makita, makonsulta at mabigyan angkop na treatment at management sa sakit nila (They need to be checked and given the proper treatment and management)," Magtangob said.

Previously, only the Bicol Regional Hospital and Medical Center in this city offered NBS continuity care.

Magtangob said with the establishment of the NBS Satellite Continuity Clinic in Virac, those patients in Catanduanes need not travel to Legazpi. 

"Minsan po sasabihin ng mga parents wala silang pamasahe or may bagyo po pag malapit po ung schedule nila so kawawa naman ang mga bata (Sometimes parents would say they don't have fare money or sometimes there is a typhoon during their scheduled checkup, so it's a pitiful situation for the children)," she said.

Magtangob also said they are encouraging all provinces to continuously improve their NBS services by putting up NBS Satellite Continuity Clinics in their areas of coverage.

With a continuity clinic, they can now provide patients with access to long-term continuity care like consultation, monitoring and treatment.

NBS identifies newborns' Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM) through early detection, diagnosis, and intervention. The continuity clinic was opened to provide continuous, efficient and more accessible outpatient care to confirmed positive patients with IEM.

Dr. Ferchito Avelino, DOH-Bicol assistant regional director, said the NBS aims to identify IEM which can affect a child’s long-term health and survival.

He added that the establishment of EBMC’s continuity clinic along with the Dialysis Center and Acute Psychiatric Clinic, is an important step toward the full implementation of Republic Act 11223, also known as the Universal Health Care Act. (PNA)