Sandig said the hospital’s annex building, which is worth about P40 million, would be formally opened during the province’s 40th foundation anniversary on July 18.
Australian Ambassador Tony Hely, whose government served as one of the hospital’s top patrons during the past decade, would grace the opening of the new hospital facility.
Sandig said the opening of the new annex building and the upcoming purchase of new medical equipment would fast track the local government’s bid to upgrade the provincial hospital into a full-fledged tertiary medical institution and eventually into a medical center.
He said the opening of the annex building would increase the provincial hospital’s capacity from the current 150 to 200 beds.
South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. had filed a proposed bill at the House of Representatives for the conversion of the provincial hospital into a training and medical center and the upgrading of its bed capacity to 200 beds.
Sandig said the provincial hospital is classified as a tertiary institution based on the license it obtained from the Department of Health but it still lacks some basic requirements to fully function as such.
“We still need to add resident doctors and specialists for our various departments. To attain full tertiary status and become a training facility, we need to have at least seven resident doctors per department,” he said.
Presently, he said only the family medicine department has a functional training department for medical interns.
Records showed that the provincial hospital here regularly caters to patients from the province and from nearby Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and Maguindanao. It has also treated or confined some patients coming from Davao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga and Iloilo.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes earlier endorsed the implementation of the province's health sector reform framework that outlines the targets and strategies for the development of the public health sector in the province.
Fuentes said among their strategy is to ensure fiscal autonomy for all public hospitals by improving on their capability to generate income.
She said among their long-term goal is to acquire a CT-Scan facility that is reportedly now worth at least P25 million.
Last January, the province obtained a grant worth P85 million from European Commission to improve the province’s health care systems and public health services.
In 1997, the province was chosen as one of the six pilot beneficiaries of public health program Integrated Community Health Services Project (ICHSP) that was funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) and the Asian Development Bank.
AusAid was assigned to finance and assist the province’s health programs that focused mainly on systems development and the strengthening of the management capacity of the provincial and municipal governments.
The program facilitated the creation of a comprehensive health referral system and the clustering of the province’s 10 towns and lone city into five local area health development zones.