Gov’t hospitals in SouthCot to give free services

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/28 June) – Admission and treatment in all government-run hospitals in South Cotabato province will be free of any charges starting on Monday, July 1.

This was announced on Friday by incoming Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. as he vowed to immediately start the full implementation of the free hospitalization program for all residents based on his campaign promise.

“Starting Monday, we will make sure that no one will be queuing at the billing section of our hospitals because hospitalization will already be free in the province of South Cotabato,” he said in his inaugural speech at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center.

Tamayo took his oath on Friday as the province’s sixth elected provincial governor before Judge Lorenzo Balo of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44.

The official said the free hospitalization will cover residents who will seek treatment at the provincial hospital here and the municipal hospitals in Norala, Surallah, Tupi and Polomolok towns.

He recalled that during the campaign, his critics repeatedly slammed the planned free hospitalization program as it is supposedly not doable in terms of the financial requirement.

But he said he studied the operations of the province’s hospitals and found out that his proposal could be implemented, with proper management.

Citing the case of the provincial hospital, he said data shows that about eight percent of its income comes from the “pockets of the patients.”

He said the 92 percent is sourced from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth insurance claims under the “No Balance Billing” program.

Tamayo said the provincial government can “sacrifice the eight percent” and make the hospitalization coverage fully free.

“This is not only for the indigents but for all residents. This is not impossible if we will really push for it,” he stressed.

Tamayo said they will complement the free hospitalization program with the upgrading of hospital facilities and the provision of all necessary medicines, supplies and equipment.

For the provincial hospital, which is currently classified by the Department of Health as a Level II facility, he said they will purchase at least 10 dialysis machines, two x-ray machines and computerized tomography or CT scan unit.

The official said the local government, through the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), will also strengthen the “disease prevention” initiatives.

“The IPHO will focus on the barangays and ensure that the full range of services will be available to our residents, especially in terms of immunization,” he added. (MindaNews)