THE HOSPITAL unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has stepped up its response to the pandemic by forming a crisis team and designating one of its hospitals as a referral facility for those positive of the deadly virus.

In a statement yesterday, Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI) said it was increasing efforts to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) through the newly formed team.

“The country’s health care system faces unprecedented challenges… Our Hospitals Group are focusing their resources on critical concerns — particularly hospital care for the most critically-ill patients infected by COVID-19,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in the statement.

“At the same time, we aim to provide every assistance possible to our doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel to protect their well-being and safety as they courageously pursue their enormously difficult task of caring for patients,” he added.

MPHHI’s network of 16 hospitals is joining efforts to mitigate the mounting cases of COVID-19. It designated Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Sta. Mesa, Manila as the main COVID-19 referral facility. The other 15 hospitals in its network will explore opportunities to double capacities to more than 600 beds for COVID-19 patients.

The hospitals in MPHHI’s network include Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, De Los Santos Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital of Malolos, Dr. Jesus C. Delgado Memorial Hospital, and Marikina Valley Medical Center.

In the event that the situation worsens, MPHHI said it was planning supplemental tents for non-critical COVID-19 cases.

The Department of Health reported 1,418 cases, 71 deaths and 42 recoveries from COVID-19 as of Sunday.

Shares in MPIC at the stock exchange shed 20 centavos or 7.69% to P2.40 each yesterday.

MPIC is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. — Denise A. Valdez