Philippine General Hospital (from the PGH Facebook Page)

Philippine General Hospital (PGH) medical staff were in an uproar after the Philippine News Agency (PNA) published an article that claimed all of the hospital’s medical and non-medical staff tested negative from the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) when in fact they did not undergo any test for the dreaded disease.

The March 24 article of the PNA in question ran the headline ‘PGH health workers test negative for COVID-19’.

“Fake news po,”reads a Facebook post of “Dr. John” a PGH doctor who requested anonymity.  He claims the headline made it appear that they were all tested for the dreaded disease when in fact no test was conducted on the hospital’s workforce.

“We wouldn’t be that selfish or self-centered, obviously,” alluding to the controversial COVID-19 testing availed by some politicians and their families some at their homes.

Senator Francis Tolentino is one such politician who received flak for posting a selfie after he got his test conducted in what appears to be a room in his residence.  Tolentino was asymptomatic of COVID-19 so the testing was heavily criticized by netizens in social media

“Dr. Vince” another doctor at PGH who wants his identity protected, swore that no testing was done.

“Kahit mataas position mo sa PGH hindi ka itetest without symptoms,” referring to the new algorithm being implemented by the DOH regarding testing patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

The PNA later admitted the mistake and issued an apology thru a series of tweets on its official Twitter account.

“The PNA apologizes for the perceived potentially misleading headline,” it said.

It added that the story was based on statements made by PGH Director, Dr. Gerardo D. Legaspi, during last Monday’s virtual presser at the main office of the DOH.

“Kami po’y masaya at ‘di kami masyado nagkakaroon ng persons under investigation [PUIs] sa mga empleyado. Ang huling naming bilang ay ‘di lalapit sa (We’re happy that we didn’t have much PUIs among our employees. Our last count is not close to) 100 out of the 4,500 employees,” Legaspi said during the presser.

The country’s premiere hospital has 2,500 doctors.

“The PNA understands that the initial report could be misconstrued to mean that there had been mass testing for the PGH workforce but there was no such intention on our part,” the PNA said.

The state news agency said the headline was revised “to clarify that the hospital’s PUIs were found negative of the #Coronavirus Disease.

The headline now reads ‘Close to 100 PUI-health workers of PGH negative of Covid-19’

“The PNA’s mandate is to inform, not disinform, about programs and activities of the government, the PGH, as the country’s premier government hospital, included,” the statement concluded.

Dr. John thinks otherwise.

“This was constructed to shape public opinion. Obviously with the shutdown of major private hospitals and this headline, claiming we have all been tested, PUIs and COVID patients would go to us because it’s ‘safe’,” he said.  (Rommel F. Lopez)