GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 June) — South Cotabato officials will push for the conversion within the next three years of the province’s hospital annex in Surallah town into a regional-level facility.
South Cotabato governor-elect Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the provincial government will specifically lobby with the Department of Health (DOH) to adopt and develop the Upper Valley Community Hospital in Barangay Dajay in Surallah into a regional hospital for Region 12.
The construction of the facility, which is classified as an annex of the provincial hospital in Koronadal City, is currently ongoing and is due for completion by the last quarter of the year.
“That’s the direction that we want to pursue for our hospital annex since, in effect, we presently don’t have a regional hospital in Region 12,” she told radio station Brigada News FM.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
DOH-Region 12 runs the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City but most of its patients only come from the area and Maguindanao province, which is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Fuentes said patients from most parts of Region 12 who need special medical attention are usually brought to Davao City instead of Cotabato City due to security concerns.
“If we will just operate it as a secondary hospital and just upgrade it later on to the tertiary level, the quality of our (public) hospital services in the area will not improve,” she said.
Fuentes said she has tasked the newly-elected officials of Surallah town, especially members of the town council, to immediately pass a resolution requesting the DOH to pursue the conversion of the hospital into a regional facility.
She said the municipal resolution will then be adopted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the provincial government.
Fuentes said incoming South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez already agreed to file a complementary measure at the House of Representatives.
The provincial hospital annex sits on a five-hectare property beside the national highway that was donated by the municipal government of Surallah.
The construction of the project’s first phase, which was funded by a P25-million grant from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, was completed earlier this month.
Among those completed were the hospital’s main building, which hosts its administrative section, emergency room, diagnostic laboratory, outpatient department and pharmacy, Pingoy said.
The second phase, which is due for completion next month, is presently ongoing through a P28-million grant from the DOH.
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 facility, which will serve as the main inter-local health zone hospital or health care hub for the province’s upper valley area, is projected to help decongest the main South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City by 25 percent.
It will specifically serve patients from the municipalities of Banga, Suralah, Sto. Nino, Tboli and Lake Sebu. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)