Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Director Gerardo Legaspi called on the frontliners, “the People Giving Hope,” to soldier on as the state-run hospital becomes one of the three main coronavirus (COVID-19) referral facilities in the country. 

In his statement addressed to over 4,000 PGH staff, he admitted it was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make. However, it was the right thing to do. 

“Amidst this chaos, order had to be established. And we have to, lest the enemy — which was not only COVID-19, but fear itself — decimate the services that were on the verge of collapsing as the crisis continued,” he said in the statement being shared online by members of the PGH community.  

Legaspi said it was up to them to step up to the plate, as they always do since time immemorial. 

“In one of the rare moments of solidarity, the government and the private sector responded. What is our beloved PGH, the largest, better-funded cradle of scholars and idealists, to do?

“We have been serving the country for 112 years, being the only hospital that remained open during WWII. We have always responded, time and again, to the call of our countrymen when needed, either through training, research and most especially service. THIS IS THAT TIME AGAIN!”

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III designated the institution along with Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and the Lung Health Center of the Philippines to become the country’s COVID-19 referral centers.

Several private hospitals earlier called on DOH to “centralize” efforts in hospitals that would only treat COVID-19 patients, after the growing number of cases depleted their manpower and medical equipment.

In a virtual press conference on March 23, Legaspi said that the planning and preparing for the conversion began as early as March 20. At least 130 beds will be committed to COVID-19 cases. 

They are also eyeing to tap interns and military doctors to respond to heed the call as well. 

Legaspi said that while they become one of the COVID-19 centers, PGH will not be exclusively a COVID-19 hospital, and will continue serving especially indigent Filipinos. 

Though the task is daunting, Legaspi assured it is surmountable if they “band together AS ONE.”

“Let us do this for the patients. Let us do this because, though urgently needed, not everyone would want or will be capable to. Let us do this for the students, and for our senior staff who have opted to remain in PGH and continue to serve despite the clear and present danger. Let us do this for our comrades who have fallen, taking to heart the oath we all took. 

“Let us do this because deep in our hearts — devoid of fear and anger — it is the right thing to do.”