Recognizing the need to improve government hospitals especially in times of crisis, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sponsored two more local hospital bills to further improve the delivery of medical and healthcare services especially in the provinces. These were in addition to many other health-related bills his health committee tackled in series of hearings these past days.

During the plenary session of the Senate on Monday, June 1, Go sponsored and sought the Chamber’s support for the immediate passage of House Bill 6036 and HB 6144.

“As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to improve our government health facilities,” Go said.

HB 6036 aims to increase the bed capacity of Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center (LPGH-STC) from 200 to 500 beds, and upgrade its service facilities and professional healthcare services, while House Bill 6144 seeks to increase the bed capacity of the Cagayan Valley Medical Center (CVMC) in Tuguegarao City.

According to Go, the LPGH-STC has already exceeded its bed occupancy rate from 2018 to 2019 at 110.53% while CVMC recorded an average bed occupancy rate of 158% in the same year as it caters to many patients from two regions.

“We aim to increase the bed capacity of the Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center or the LPGH-STC. Currently, the LPGH is a 200-bed DOH hospital serving the cities of Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, and Bacoor and Imus in Cavite,” Go explained adding that the bed occupancy rate of the hospital from 2018 to 2019 averaged at 110.53%.

“[This] is exceedingly above the national standard of 85%. Thus, the need to upgrade from 200 beds to 500 beds.

“In 2018, CVMC recorded 16,155 hospital admissions. From 2018 to 2019, it had an average bed occupancy rate of 158%, which is tremendously above the national standard of 85%. Thus, the bill seeks to increase the bed capacity of CVMC from 500 to 1,000 beds,” Go added.

The issues concerning the overcrowding in public hospitals surfaced even more as the country faces the health crisis. According to Go, this “has been one of the weaknesses of our health care system.”

The Senator cited that in 2018, almost 65% or 284 out of 437 public hospitals were already over its limit in terms of bed capacity and patient admittance.

“This included 51 or 73% of our DOH hospitals,” Go said.

Go also underscored the need for the legislative branch to act urgently on health-related measures given the ongoing global health crisis.

“Sana sa pandemic natin ngayon, huwag nating tagalan ang mga priority bills, lalong lalo na involving health,” Go said.

“As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to improve our government health facilities,” he said.

Last May 27, Senator Go also sponsored five local bills to establish the Bicol Women’s and Children’s Hospital (Camarines Sur), and further capacitate Quirino Memorial Medical Center (Quezon City), Western Visayas Medical Center (Iloilo City), Siargao District Hospital (Surigao del Norte) and Malita District Hospital (Davao Occidental).

“I have the honor to sponsor several local hospital bills which are aimed towards the improvement of some of our government hospitals,” Go said during last week’s session, adding that it is crucial to take these measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go also said that these legislative measures will boost the capacity of hospitals, especially in the provinces. Go added that this will complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program, citing that most modern hospitals are located in Metro Manila where people migrate in order to be treated.

“We aim to capacitate our government hospitals, especially in the provinces. This is also in line with the Balik Probinsiya initiative of the government,” Go said previously.

“Improving health capacity and upgrading capability of hospitals in the provinces would help enhance the health and overall well-being among the entire Philippine population,” he added.

Aside from the local hospital bills, the Senator has also earlier pushed for legislative measures which seek to further strengthen and enhance the country’s healthcare system.

Among these bills are the SB 1226, or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, which aims to authorize the Department of Health to increase the bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals and to allow it to promulgate evaluation and approval guidelines.

Go also filed SB 1259 or the “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020” which mandates the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region in the country. The measure provides for the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region.

To ensure the accessibility of the quarantine facilities to healthcare facilities, the proposed bill mandates that their locations be accessible to a DOH hospital and strategically located to ensure the safety of the community.

Go also filed a bill seeking to strengthen the country’s efforts in disease surveillance and epidemiologic investigation. SB 1528 filed by Go seeks to amend Republic Act 11332, also known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”

In addition, Go also filed SB 1451, also known as the “Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020,” which seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps composed of all persons who have degrees in the field of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but have yet to have their respective licenses to practice for reasons such as, but not limited to, not having taken and/or passed the licensure examinations in their respective professions.

“Once we have well-equipped hospitals with increased bed capacities in the provinces, sufficient medical workers, and proper protocols in place for future health emergencies, we can assure Filipinos that a better life is waiting for them wherever they are in the country,” he said.

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