P29M allotted for extension facility of South Cot hospital

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 October) – The Department of Health (DOH) has earmarked some P29 million to help fund the construction of the proposed extension facility of the South Cotabato provincial hospital.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Friday the DOH approved the fresh funding for the planned provincial hospital annex in Surallah town as part of its health facilities enhancement program.

He said they expect the release of the DOH’s funding commitment in time for the targeted start of the project’s implementation early next year.

“We’re currently processing the purchase of a five hectare lot in Surallah for the hospital annex’s site,” the governor said.

Aside from the DOH, Pingoy said business conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) also pledged a P15-million grant to the provincial government for the same project.

He said the local government forged a memorandum of agreement with SMC last month to finalize the grant.

SMC has been building up its presence in the province following its acquisition last year of a major coal mining project in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town.

Sultan Energy Philippines Corp. sold its coal mine project in Lake Sebu in June last year to SMC, which also holds the coal operating contract of Daguma Agro Minerals, Inc. in the same area.

Studies said the coal mining area, which is part of the mineral-rich Daguma Mountain Range, contains 426 million metric tons of coal deposits. Initial exploration and drilling results have blocked 55 million metric tons of reserves that can be mined in 526 hectares of the mountain range.

Under the proposed development plan of the provincial hospital annex, Pingoy said the project will cost a total of P145 million when eventually completed.

As recommended by a technical working group created by the local government, he said the construction of the hospital facility will be funded through a counterpart scheme.

Pingoy said the provincial government will have to raise P25 million while the municipal government of Surallah will be contributing P5 million.

The governor said the hospital annex was planned to operate as a Level 2 facility with an initial capacity of 25 beds.

Based on the DOH’s hospital classification criteria, a Level 2 facility is mainly a “non-departmentalized hospital that provides clinical care and management on the prevalent diseases in the locality.”

It will provide clinical services such as general medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and anesthesia; appropriate administrative and ancillary services such as secondary clinical laboratory, first level radiology and pharmacy; nursing care; and, intermediate, moderate and partial category of supervised care for 24 hours or longer.

Pingoy said the proposed hospital annex will mainly help decongest the main provincial hospital in Koronadal City of patients coming from the province’s upper valley area, which covers the towns of Banga, T’boli, Sto. Nino, Lake Sebu and Surallah.

The five municipalities have a combined population of 285,245, he said.

The governor said the proposed facility’s target beneficiaries include residents from “geographically inaccessible and difficult areas” and the Lumad communities.

Pingoy said they pushed for the construction of the provincial hospital annex due to the overcrowding problems at the main provincial hospital in Koronadal.

In the last six years, he said, the provincial hospital posted an average occupancy of 142 percent despite the doubling of its bed capacity from 100 to 200 beds.

“Patients from the upper valley area comprise 27 percent of the patients admitted at the provincial hospital while the Lake Sebu Municipal Hospital only had an average occupancy rate of 62 percent due to its inaccessible location,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)