Construction of P200-M SoCot hospital expansion finally starts

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 10 December) – Construction work on the P200-million expansion and upgrading of the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital (SCPH) on a new site here, has finally started, nearly four years after its groundbreaking rites. 

The project’s implementation, which involves the construction of a four-story hospital building, was originally approved under the 2018 budget as part of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program but was deferred due to problems with the proposed site.

“This project is long overdue – almost five years. But we’re happy that the construction will now finally start,” Vice Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said during the site’s blessing and groundbreaking ceremony on Friday afternoon.

Finally, says Dr. Arturo Pingoy, VIce Governor of South Cotabato, construction work on the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital expansion starts, three years after its first groundbreaking. Photo from the Provincial Government of South Cotabato’s FB page

The DOH and the provincial government held the project’s groundbreaking in January 2019 through a design-and-build contract for a four-story modern hospital building awarded to construction firm EM Cuerpo Inc.

But after a review of the project, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., who assumed the gubernatorial post on June 30, 2019  pushed for the transfer of the proposed site from the crowded SCPH complex to the Productivity and Technology or Protech Center compound.

Dr. Conrado Braña Jr., SCPH director, said the hospital’s operations would be hampered if it pushes through in the original site, which is located at the rear portion of the complex.

The allotted area has no evacuation site available in case of earthquakes and the construction will cause the demolition of the hospital’s supply building, gymnasium and septic tanks of at least 40 comfort rooms, he said.

“When that happens, at least 100 rooms will not be operational during the construction phase and we cannot sacrifice that,” he told reporters.

He said the request for transfer remained pending with the DOH for quite some time while some members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board stood pat on the original plan, putting the project on hold.

Pingoy said the project’s status then became uncertain as it was supposedly “politicized,” referring to the opposition to the site’s transfer by allies of former Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes in the provincial board.

Fuentes, who originally approved the project in 2018, lost her bid for a third straight term to Tamayo in the 2019 elections.

The provincial board slate under Gov. Tamayo, the president of administration party Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, won eight of the contested seats in the May 2022 elections.    

The board tackled anew the project in July and eventually passed an ordinance allotting the Protech Center compound, which is situated just across the SCPH and provincial capitol complex, as the provincial hospital’s expansion site.

“The delayed implementation also delayed the delivery of health services and the people suffered…This is a good start to improve the delivery of health services in South Cotabato,” Pingoy said.

Braña said the new hospital building will cover around 3,000 square meters of the one-hectare Protech Center compound.

The construction phase was originally set for 600 days but the contractor approved Tamayo’s request to have it slashed to just 320 days.

Once completed, he said the hospital building will host additional wards that can accommodate at least 72 beds and additional rooms for surgery and obstetrics.

“It will help decongest our main building and prevent overcrowding of at the emergency room that has forced some of our patients to stay in the roadside covered area,” Braña said.

SCPH, a Level II facility with a listed capacity of 200 beds, accommodates as high as 450 patients daily.

Braña said Tamayo is currently working for additional funding from the national government to augment the project.

The governor had earlier announced that he has secured commitment from thePhilippine Amusement and Gaming Corporationfor another P200 million to complete the project and the upgrading of its facilities, which will include the establishment of a molecular laboratory. (Allen V. Estabillo /MindaNews)