GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 May) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 is pushing for the passage of a law that would facilitate the conversion of the South Cotabato provincial hospital annex in Surallah town into a regional-level facility.
In a resolution, the council specifically asked members of the House of Representatives from the region to work for the enactment of an enabling law for the initiative, which would pave the way for the establishment of the area’s second regional hospital.
Arturo Valero, acting RDC-12 chairperson, said the move was mainly in response to the region’s need to have a regional hospital that is more accessible to majority of its constituents.
He said the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12 runs the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center based in Cotabato City but records showed that about 54 percent of its patients are from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Due to the cost of travel and distance (to Cotabato City), most patients situated in other areas of Region 12 have to rely on the services of provincial or district hospitals for their health needs that are unfortunately inadequate for more serious illnesses,” he said.
Valero, who is also the regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority, cited poor patients from the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani as well as this city.
The provincial government of South Cotabato initially pushed for the conversion of the provincial hospital annex into a regional facility to answer “the need for better hospital services in the region.”
The move was initially backed by South Cotabato representatives Pedro Acharon Jr. of the first district and Ferdinand Hernandez of the second district.
Senate President Franklin Drilon also endorsed it to Health Secretary Enrique Ona through a letter dated November 7, 2013.
Citing the DOH-12’s initial assessment, Valero said the provincial hospital annex, which was officially named as Upper Valley Community Hospital, has met the physical requirements of a regional hospital.
He cited the required capacity of at least 100 hospital beds and a land area of around 30,000 square meters.
DOH-12 has included in its proposed budget for 2015 the funding support for the staffing requirement of at least 347 staff and personnel for the hospital.
The agency has also set aside funds for the procurement of additional equipment and for the maintenance and operating expenses for the facility, which is targeted to open by the second half of the year.
The provincial hospital annex sits on a five-hectare property beside the national highway in Barangay Dajay in Surallah that was donated by the municipal government.
The pentagon-shaped community hospital, which will open with an initial 40 beds, will initially operate as a lying-in facility for the province’s upper valley area.
The construction of the facility was completed late last year but its opening was put on hold by the provincial government due to funding problems.
The project’s first phase, which was funded by a P25-million grant from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, was initially completed in June last year.
The second phase was funded by a P28-million grant from the DOH’s health facilities enhancement program.