GMT Manila defies odds with containerized RT-PCR labs, wins Covid Management Initiative of the Year from Healthcare Asia  | Healthcare Asia Magazine
, Philippines

GMT Manila defies odds with containerized RT-PCR labs, wins Covid Management Initiative of the Year from Healthcare Asia 

GMT Manila’s award-winning initiative, in collaboration with Endec Inc. and Scilore LLC, is a rapidly deployable turnkey solution for RT-PCR Testing that made it more available across the Philippines. 

Onboarding containerized RT-PCR laboratories into ships, and going to different parts of the country to set them up quickly may seem daunting and arduous during the beginning of a global pandemic. And yet, Global Medical Technologies (GMT) completed the painstaking tasks of traveling and installing these labs around the Philippines to make RT-PCR tests, the gold standard for testing, available to more Filipinos at a time when they needed it the most. 

For this initiative, the company received the Healthcare Asia Medtech Award for the COVID Initiative of the Year. The award-giving body recognizes companies who have made excellent innovations, technologies, and enterprises in this field, and this certainly was something to recognize. 

GMT Manila has always worked hard to fulfill its mission of providing access to world-class medical technologies to help clinicians measure and trace the root cause of a patient’s disease.

"Fortunately, we were already involved with biosafety before, “ said Dr. Ronnel Matibag, Business Unit Head and Medical Director of BTRP. “Now, we needed rapid deployment of manpower and transfer of technology during a global pandemic, especially since this involved RT-PCR testing which is the gold standard for COVID-19 tests. This was the easiest way. The traditional laboratory couldn’t be built, because the LGUs weren’t ready and didn’t have the resources. So we made this, which could be delivered to various areas in the archipelago." 

Collaborating for gold standard COVID-19 detection 

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, GMT Manila immediately endeavored to work with its partners in this program. To do this, it collaborated with its partners, Endec, Inc., an engineering, design, build and program management company and Scillore, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in environmental threats. 

Their tried and tested partnership had already accomplished the completion of a National Biothreat Reduction Initiative Program under the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the United States Department of Defense. The initiative was made possible with the Department of Agriculture, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as well as the National Training Center for Biosafety and Biosecurity.  This partnership also bagged the Cooperative Threat Reduction Integrating Contract in the country for the next five years. 

“Our work with ENDEC and Scilore underscores the potential of what can be accomplished through a convergence of expertise. While Endec led the program management, engineering, design and construction, Scilore developed and performed the training programs for this initiative,”  explained Mitch Genato, Group CEO and Co-Founder of GMT Manila states. The experience and competence of the groups were there already, but now it has to be applied as a specific solution during the pandemic.  

Convenient and swift way of testing 

GMT's Containerized RT-PCR Testing Laboratory is a turnkey solution that allows for a fully operational BSL2 Laboratory to be deployable in 21 days. With each deployment to medical institutions and local government units, each containerized system provides a one-stop solution to deliver molecular diagnostic testing capacity to the respective customer. 

This construction solution includes the container laboratory facility, mechanical and electrical installations, water service, HVAC and storage. It is a fully outfitted laboratory with equipment, reagents and supplies required for conducting COVID-19 molecular diagnostics. 

It is also designed and built to specifications according to the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, and Biosafety in Microbiological Biomedical Laboratories to pass BSL-2 specifications with a use of a standard 40-foot ISO shipping container with a 20-foot ISO container assembled into a multi-room laboratory suite. It has been approved for use and is certifiable by the Department of Health for clinical testing of human specimens. 

In terms of operations, each laboratory requires a six-person shift of BSL2-trained medical  technicians who have also gone through training in PCR-based testing. The total throughput of each eight-hour shift will be from 100-150 tests yielding an estimate of 300- 450 tests at full capacity of three shifts.  

As of today, 19 proprietary containerized and relocatable RT-PCR testing laboratories have been constructed and delivered nationwide: six in NCR, two in Luzon, four in Visayas, and seven in Mindanao. Some of the most notable sites include Davao City International Airport and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.   

Persevering to flatten the curve

“The most difficult aspect of putting the program together was really the circumstance by which the whole endeavor had been framed in — we were at the start of the pandemic and the emotion and fear were very palpable. Getting people to focus on the work that was cut out was a challenge,” Genato narrated. “Remember that we had to work through a time when ports were closed and the sourcing of supplies and materials were very difficult. Not to mention the fact that suppliers demanded full payment for the sourcing of all the goods we needed to deliver. Ultimately, I’d say it was made possible because of the determination and commitment of our partners and team members who were just relentless.”

“Transporting the laboratories was very difficult,” recalled Dr. Ronnel Matibag.  “We delivered six labs in several days by riding a ship. It took a lot of people going overnight to successfully ship the laboratory. The team worked non-stop and there were sleepless nights just to complete the installation per laboratory. It was a tedious process of bringing the lab from the port to destination and then setting it up. We almost couldn’t believe that a lab could be set up overnight. Persevering against all odds was worth it because we were able to help equip LGUs in the fight against COVID-19.” 

In completing the project, GMT Manila also recognizes the trust and confidence extended by the respective stakeholders from the following agencies and institutions: the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolutions or the IATF, and the Department of Health (DOH), among others.

Banner Photo: The interiors of the containerized RT-PCR labs. This complete indoor set-up includes the container laboratory facility, mechanical and electrical installations, water service, HVAC and storage. 

The containerized RT-PCR labs are onboarded a ship headed to various parts of the Philippines. GMT Manila’s team, in collaboration with Endec and Scillore, persisted despite challenges, and was able to transport these portable labs nationwide. 

GMT Manila

The containerized RT-PCR labs during construction. While it was truly a challenge to travel with these labs via ship, set them up, and install them, the task of completing it was a proud accomplishment for the GMT Manila. The workers who assembled this lab in particular endured a sleepless night, just to see it through. It was all worth it so they could help LGUs make  RT-PCR tests accessible to more Filipinos.

Mitch Genato, Group CEO and Co-Founder of GMT Manila (left) and William M. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, ENDEC, Inc (right) during a meeting for the containerized RT-PCR lab installation.

The completely installed containerized RT-PCR lab. To finish the project, GMT Manila also collaborated with respective stakeholders such as the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolutions or the IATF, and the Department of Health (DOH).

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