GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 December) — The provincial government of South Cotabato is targeting to begin early next year the upgrading of its provincial hospital following the approval of a P70-million grant from the Department of Health (DOH).
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office chief, said Thursday they have already submitted to the DOH central office the detailed plan for the project, which will involve the rehabilitation and expansion of the hospital’s main building, wards and other vital facilities.
He said the hospital’s upgrading, which is among the top priorities of the local government, initially received a funding of P20 million early this year from the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP).
But the agency approved an additional P50-million grant for the project following a visit and inspection of the facility last July by Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
“They personally saw the hospital’s situation and the need for its immediate rehabilitation and upgrading so they pushed for the release of the additional funding,” Aturdido said.
Aside from the P70-million grant, the official said South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes is currently working for another “bigger project” for the provincial hospital.
The DOH earlier agreed to send a team of experts to the area to study and evaluate the operations of the provincial hospital.
The team will help the local government identify problems and recommend the necessary reforms to help improve the management and operations of the hospital.
As of end-November, the facility already generated around P160 million in revenues that was up by nearly P30 million compared to last year.
The provincial hospital posted a total income of P133 million in 2013 and P89 million in 2012.
Aturdido said they had been pushing for the hospital’s upgrading to mainly cope with its growing occupancy rate and demand for various hospital-related services.
Although listed by the DOH as a 200-bed tertiary facility, the provincial hospital’s daily occupancy rate reaches as high as 170 percent, which is equivalent to a total of 340 patients.
Aside from being overcrowded, he said the hospital has a total work force of only 479, which is 130 less than the ideal manpower set by the DOH for a 200-bed facility.
In 2013, the DOH invested a total of P26.5-million for the initial improvements at the provincial hospital through the HFEP.
Around P20 million was spent for the rehabilitation and construction of hospital facilities while the P6.5 million was utilized for the acquisition of various equipment.
For this year, the DOH allotted an additional P48.7 million under HFEP to fund various projects in the province, specifically the improvement of the area’s three district and municipal hospitals.