Bong Go: Rationalize bed capacity in DOH hospitals
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As the health crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to challenge the healthcare sector, Sen. Bong Go emphasized the need to make the process of increasing the bed capacity and capabilities of the hospitals run by the Department of Health (DOH) easier and more systematic.

In Senate Bill 1226 or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act of 2019, Go wants to authorize the department to increase the bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals as well as allow it to promulgate evaluation and approval guidelines.

“Under current regulations, a DOH hospital can only increase its bed capacity and improve its service capability through legislation,” he said, pointing out the need for a more efficient way of enhancing the capabilities of public hospitals and empowering the DOH to fulfill its mandate of improving the country’s healthcare system.

Go stressed that if the health of Filipinos is well taken care of, it would result to having the country develop faster and better.

“We have the effects of COVID-19 worldwide. Let’s learn from this experience and create a better healthcare system for our country to better respond to these kinds of health emergencies,” he said.

Under the proposed SB 1226, the DOH is required to provide Congress an annual report of hospitals with approved bed capacities, along with the necessary funding requirements. This report will become the basis of Congress for including the funding requirements of the hospitals in the annual General Appropriations Act.

It also obliges the department to “develop the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan (PHFDP) to guide the modernization and development plans of all government health facilities and to access capital outlay investment through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the DOH and other national government capital outlay investment mechanisms.”

He noted that DOH hospitals often serve patients beyond its authorized bed capacities and are further constrained by the lack of adequate staffing, maintenance and operating resources, which result in longer waiting times for patients and delays in treatments.

Earlier, reports cited the cases of patients that were denied admission in hospitals due to the alleged unavailability of necessary equipment.

These include that of Caloocan City resident Katherine Bulatao who gave birth at home but was rushed to nearby hospitals for surgery. However, she was allegedly refused admission by six hospitals and declared dead on arrival at the seventh.

In Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, 65-year-old Ladislao Cabling was also reportedly refused admission by six hospitals and eventually died without getting the necessary medical emergency attention.

Go has since called for an investigation into these alleged refusals of medical facilities to administer emergency treatment.

SB1226, he added, would complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program of the government by ensuring that health facilities in provinces will have sufficient capacity and capability to take care of their constituents.

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