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A Food Packaging Material Finds Itself On The Front Lines Of COVID-19
PHOTO BY courtesy of URC
  • Almost 17 doctors have reportedly died in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. Why? According to the Philippine Medical Association, many of the country’s medical professionals are heading to the front lines lacking protection. In fact, many health workers and even hospitals are in dire need of donations of personal protective equipment (read here to donate).

    One member of the Philippine medical community asking for the public's help was Dr. Sandy Cabral Prodigalidad. She sent out an email blast for a unique request: Acetate sheets to make into face shields for frontliners.

    That email eventually made its way to the inbox of Ramon Agustines, a business unit general manager of Universal Robina Corporation. Agustines then connected with Dr. Maria Julieta Germar from the UP-PGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. As it turned out, BOPP could be used not just for face shields.

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    The BOPP film is used in the food packaging industry for its flexibility and superiority in transparency and moisture-proof property.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of URC

    Dr. Germar explains, “The PGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology needed plastic sheets to prepare the triage, examination areas, and operating room to see Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and pregnant patients positive with COVID-19. 

    “Due to the lockdown, I had to reach out to friends. I got an initial donation from a bookstore. However, we needed more since we would need to replace it frequently. That’s when someone linked me to URC.”

    The URC packaging business unit, which Agustines manages, manufactures biaxially- oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films. It is widely used as a food packaging material but suitable for the hospital’s intended purpose.

    Not long after receiving Dr. Germar’s request, URC acted quickly. “By Monday, March 23, I had the rolls delivered directly [to the hospital] from the URC Films plant in Batangas,” recounts Agustines.

    Each roll of BOPP contains about 500 meters of film, which should go a long way in keeping frontliners out of harm’s way.

    Dr. Germar explains the purpose of BOPP films. “For surgeries, the BOPP films are set up at the entrance and also to cover essential equipment like the anesthesia machine. We cannot start surgery until the barriers are set.”
    PHOTO BY courtesy of URC
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    According to Dr. Germar, “The BOPP films serve as a barrier between the healthcare worker and the PUI/COVID-19 positive patient. This is set up at the triage where the first patient encounter happens. This is also set up in the examination area, the diagnostic area (ultrasound unit), and more importantly, the operating room.

    This donation from URC, one among the many that the nation’s hospitals and other medical facilities have received from other concerned corporations and individuals, is a testament to the unity being displayed during this health crisis, with everyone pitching in to do what they can.

    “We cannot do this alone,” acknowledged Dr. Germar with gratitude. “Thank you for heeding our call for help.”

    One of the country’s largest food and beverage manufacturers, URC in partnership with the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation has been donating products like Great Taste Coffee, Magic Crackers, Nissin Noodles, and C2 at medical centers dealing with the outbreak.

    So far, URC products have been delivered to the Philippine Lung Center, East Avenue Hospital, the Philippine Heart Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and the Department of Health’s Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Units in the National Capital Region and Region 4A. 

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