Polomolok completes pioneer build of COVID-19 isolation unit by John Ryan Santos + Partners

The first rapid build COVID-19 isolation unit in Polomolok, South Cotabato kick starts the development of a larger provincial hospital complex

  • June 1, 2020

  • Written by Gabrielle de la Cruz

  • Images courtesy of the municipality of Polomolok

With the increasing number of COVID-19 patients since the first case in January 2020, the capacities of hospitals and healthcare facilities continue to deplete. Several designers and architecture firms have shared plans and designs for COVID-19 isolation unit models, quarantine facilities, the repurposing of public and open spaces, and even the conversion of sports arenas and other landmarks to help curb the capacity shortage.

Less than two months of proposing their response to the shortage of beds in Philippine hospitals, John Ryan Santos+Partners was able to complete their first Rapid-Build Hospital Isolation (RBHI) unit in the municipality of Polomolok, South Cotabato. The healthcare architecture firm shares that they were working with Polomolok Mayor Honey Lumayag-Matti on a hospital design when the pandemic ensued. “When we sent her a copy of the RBHI presentation, she was actually looking to prepare her city for the surge of patients that need isolation. So it was very timely. And since the RBHI was buildable in about two weeks, she proceeded with a few refinements on the design.” 

RBHI design and construction 

Due to travel restrictions caused by the current pandemic, John Ryan Santos+Partners had to work with Mayor Lumayag-Matti and the municipality of Polomolok remotely. “We produced a complete set of architecture and engineering plans for the RBHI. We assigned one of our team members to be the remote project manager. He was on standby for calls and texts by the contractor during the construction period,” the firm shares. “It was a good thing that the contractor, Mr. Regan Gallinero, has already built a healthcare facility previously.” 

READ MORE about the RBHI units here.

Each Rapid Build Hospital Isolation (RBHI) unit is ideally housed in a one-story building with 18 isolation rooms, measuring 12.8 meters wide by 38.4 meters with a building footprint of about 491 square meters. Despite the fact that the project site has a total area of only 358 square meters, John Ryan Santos+Partners was able to implement most of what was in their proposal. “The building footprint was reduced but still followed the necessary guidelines for an effective COVID-19 isolation unit. Some materials were also specified with alternatives because of the limited supply during the ECQ and also to accelerate construction.” Although 25% smaller than the original design, JRS+Partners was still able to house 18 isolation rooms inside the structure, along with their proposed central corridor that provides access to all isolation rooms, an enclosed nurses’ station, and an airlocked entry with a decontamination chamber. 

The COVID-19 isolation unit was built by an average of 40 workers on-site, more than the 20-30 number of workers stated in the RBHI proposal. “The ECQ proved to be challenging during construction as some of the materials had a delay in availability and delivery.” Staying true to their promise of having an RBHI built within two weeks, the COVID-19 isolation unit was built within 11 days. John Ryan Santos+Partners says it was a total of 18 working days with 7 days of work stoppage due to inclement weather. They share that “if the materials were readily available, the construction schedule may actually be shortened.” Despite the limited operations of suppliers and home depots during the quarantine period, Mr. Gallinero was able to source materials from Davao and General Santos. “With a bit of delay in the delivery, light gauge steel and fiber cement boards we specified in the original design were implemented,” JRS+Partners says. 

WATCH the inauguration of the Polomolok Isolation Unit here

Polomolok Isolation Unit

The site where the isolation unit sits is government-owned and is slated to be a complex of community centers. It is along the National Highway that Mayor Lumayag-Matti intends to build on facility buildings that will serve Polomolok. “The plan for the isolation unit is to be connected to the hospital that will be built adjacent to it. Currently, we are finishing the plans for the compact hospital to be constructed next month.” John Ryan Santos + Partners share that they have already crafted a masterplan for this site. “Because of the need, the RBHI, aptly named Polomolok Isolation Unit, was the first one to be built.” 

Isolation-unit-inauguration
The inauguration of Polomolok Isolation Unit was held on the morning of May 27, 2020.

In JRS+Partners’ proposal, the idea of having RBHI units is to increase the capacity of hospitals and COVID-19 facilities. Since the hospital that Mayor Lumayag-Matti initially wanted to build will be placed near the newly built RBHI, it will deliver the promise of having a hospital complex that will assist the community not only during the pandemic but also for everyday health emergencies. 

YOU MIGHT LIKE: LOOK: Architects design a layout for a COVID-19 Central Referral Complex

Polomolok Isolation Unit received its first patient last May 27, the afternoon after its inauguration. The hospital architecture firm shares that if there was no pandemic, they would have had regular visits to the site to oversee the construction, thereby design decisions and approvals would have been immediately made. Principal architect John Ryan Santos says that their team feels a great deal of happiness that they were able to contribute to the nation’s battle against the global pandemic. “We hope that with the RBHI in Polomolok, we can indeed help ‘sagip’ our Pilipinas,” adds principal interior designer Pauline Cuevas-Bato. 


Project team

Adrian M. Asuncion

Pauline Joy S.Cuevas-Bato

Hannah Lei B. Fronda

Malraux Guillana N. Punzalan

Danielle S. Robles

John Ryan A. Santos

John Rio M. Sumague

Noreen M. Tesiorna

Reginald B. Yangzon


For donations, volunteers, inquiries, and consultations on the isolation facilities, you may get in touch with John Ryan Santos +Partners. You may also email Principal architect John Ryan Santos and Principal Interior Designer Pauline Joy Cuevas-Bato at [email protected] and [email protected]

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