SouthCot seeking P60M more to finish hospital annex

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 7 Nov) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is seeking an additional grant of P60 million from the Department of Health (DOH) to facilitate the completion of its provincial hospital annex in Surallah town.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said the local government has applied for the supplementary funding through the DOH’s health facilities enhancement program.

“We’re confident with its approval and hopeful that the needed funds will be released early next year,” he said in a media forum.

The official said they sought for the additional financial grant to complete the pending works and the uncovered “structural defects” at the facility, which is being constructed in a five-hectare property in Barangay Dajay in Surallah town.

Dubbed Upper Valley Community Hospital, he said the pentagon-shaped facility was initially planned to operate starting October this year but was shelved until the middle of 2014.

Citing their recent ocular inspection on the hospital, he said they found some problems with the structure of the two completed wings or sections under the project’s first phase.

The construction of the project’s initial phase, which was funded by a P25-million grant from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, was completed last June.

“The plant boxes were problematic and the paints on the walls have already peeled off,” Aturdido said.

He said there were other structural problems noted by South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes during a separate inspection of the facility.

As to the project’s second phase, which was funded by a P28-million grant from the DOH, he said they did not find any problem with its structure except that it was built for a centralized airconditiong system.

The DOH-funded phase, which comprises two additional wings, was completed last August.

“But we’re not yet ready for the centralized airconditiong so we need to make some modifications,” he said.

Owing to these, Aturdido said they decided to forego with the planned opening of the hospital last month as it was not fully-cleared to operate even as a level 1 facility.

As set by the DOH, he said a level 1 hospital should have a functional operating room and emergency section, he said.

The provincial government has been pushing for the conversion of the hospital into a regional-level facility as its projected operations entail huge budgetary costs that might eventually drain the local government’s coffers.

Based on an assessment conducted by a technical working group commissioned by the local government to study the facility’s proposed operations, it would require a budget of around P44 million for its initial year.

Such amount covers the acquisition of its required equipment, setting up of the basic amenities and the salaries of its doctors, nurses and other workers.

The hospital, which was projected to accommodate an initial 40 beds, was planned to 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.