GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 Feb) – Construction works formally commenced on Thursday for the P348-million expansion and upgrading of two major public hospitals in South Cotabato province through grants from the national government.
Funded under the 2018 national budget, the initiative involves the construction of a new four-story building for the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital and a three-story building for the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) in Surallah town.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, who graced the groundbreaking rites, said the implementation of the projects was the result of “collaborative work” between the Senate, the House of Representatives and the provincial government of South Cotabato.
As chair of the Senate committee on health, the senator facilitated the approval of the P200-million budget for the provincial hospital’s expansion.
Deputy Speaker for Mindanao and South Cotabato second district Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez pushed for the funding of around P148 million for the new UVCH building.
In a press conference, Ejercito said he lobbied for the construction of the provincial hospital’s new building after personally witnessing the overcrowding problems at the facility in a visit with provincial officials back in 2013.
Due to the area’s growing population, he noted that the hospital had been operating beyond its capacity and the situation has affected its overall services.
“We saw patients then staying on the aisles and on the corridors. I remembered that and resolved to help address the problem,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH), the project’s implementer, commissioned the EM Cuerpo Inc. for the construction of the project, which is due for completion in 580 days.
Based on its development plan, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the new building’s ground floor will be utilized for the administrative offices and the facility’s x-ray room.
She said the second level will host another ward while the third level will have private rooms for paying patients.
The governor said they have requested for an additional funding of P150 million next year for the completion of the building and the purchase of the needed equipment.
For the UVCH’s new building, DOH has contracted Gemma Construction Corp. for its development and targets its completion early next year.
It will house the hospital’s nursing services department, dialysis unit, rehabilitation unit as well as an additional ward and rooms.
Hernandez said the construction of the new building is part of the ongoing upgrading of the facility, which is in the process of conversion as a regional hospital for Region 12.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed October last year Republic Act 11102, which provided for the conversion and development of UVCH in Barangay Dajay, Surallah into the Soccsksargen General Hospital.
Hernandez authored the measure in the House of Representatives while Ejercito sponsored the counterpart bill in the Senate.
Aside from the P148-million new building, Hernandez said another project worth P50 million in undergoing construction within the five-hectare hospital compound.
“There are still lined up deliverables from the DOH these coming months, involving facilities and equipment upgrading,” he said. (MindaNews)