Press Release
May 23, 2020

Bong Go highlights need to rationalize bed capacity in DOH-run hospitals as more health facilities experience congestion amid COVID-19 health crisis

As the health crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues to challenge the healthcare sector, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go emphasized the need to make the process of increasing the bed capacity and capabilities of Department of Health-run hospitals easier and more systematic.

One of Go's filed bills, Senate Bill 1226 or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act of 2019, aims to authorize DOH to increase the bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals and to allow it to promulgate evaluation and approval guidelines.

"Under current regulations, a DOH hospital can only increase its bed capacity and improve its service capability through legislation," the Senator said, noting that there should be a more efficient way of enhancing capabilities of public hospitals and, at the same time, empowering the DOH to fulfill its mandate of improving healthcare in the country.

"Ayusin po natin ang proseso para matulungan ang ating mga kababayan na nangangailangang magpagamot. Kapag maayos ang kalusugan ng mga Pilipino, mas dadali ang pag-asenso ng bayan," Go said as he emphasized the importance of health in making citizens more productive.

"Nakita naman po natin ang epekto ng COVID-19 sa buong mundo. Let's learn from this experience and create a better healthcare system for our country to better respond to these kinds of health emergencies," he explained further.

SB 1226 requires the DOH to provide Congress an annual report of hospitals with approved bed capacities, along with the necessary funding requirements. The report will be the basis of Congress in including the funding requirements of the hospitals in the annual General Appropriations Act.

SB 1226 also obliges the DOH to "develop the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan (PHFDP) to guide the modernization and development plans of all government health facilities, and in order to access capital outlay investment through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the DOH and other national government capital outlay investment mechanisms."

He noted that DOH hospitals often serve patients beyond their authorized bed capacities and are further constrained by the lack of adequate staffing, maintenance and operating resources, resulting in longer waiting times for patients and delays in their treatment.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, several cases of denied admission in many hospitals had been reported due to unavailability of the necessary equipment, particularly hospital beds, because of surge capacity.

One of these cases involved a pregnant woman in Caloocan City. A certain Katherine Bulatao initially gave birth at her home but needed surgery. She was allegedly refused admission by six hospitals before finally getting admitted but was already declared dead on arrival.

In Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, a 65-year-old named Ladislao Cabling was also reportedly refused admission by six hospitals. He eventually died without getting the necessary medical emergency attention.

Other cases of patients allegedly being refused admission by hospitals have been reported the past weeks and Go has since called for the investigation regarding these alleged refusals of medical facilities to administer emergency treatment.

"Ayusin natin ang ating mga ospital para hindi magkaroon ng rason para hindian ang mga pasyenteng humihingi ng tulong medikal," Go said.

"Panahon na para tugunan natin ang mga kakulangan sa mga ospital. Sa pamamagitan ng SB 1226, magkakaroon tayo ng pagkakataong maibigay sa mga Pilipino ang nararapat na serbisyong medikal na kailangan nila lalo na sa oras ng pandemya tulad ngayon," Go said.

Meanwhile, Go also reminded the public to remain vigilant and follow health protocols as the country continues to put a stop to the spread of COVID-19.

"Huwag muna po tayo maging kampante dahil habang sinusubukan nating matigil ang first wave, mas nakakatakot kung magkaroon pa ng second wave ng pagkalat ng sakit na ito. Kung hindi tayo susunod sa patakaran, mas tatagal pa lalo ang krisis," he said.

He emphasized why it is important to continue improving the country's health facilities amid the pandemic.

"Kung mas rumami pa ang mga pasyente at tuluyang malampasan ang bilang ng mga pasyente na kayang alagaan ng ating mga health facilities, babagsak po ang ating healthcare system," he said in a previous statement.

"Magbayanihan po tayo dahil kung ano po ang gagawin natin sa susunod na mga araw, kung paano po tayo magtutulungan na maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit, kung paano po natin mas maisasaayos ang ating health facilities -- ito po ang tanging makakapagsabi kung kailan tayo makakabalik muli sa normal na pamumuhay at tuluyang matapos ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19," he added.

The Senator also mentioned that the proposed measure will complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program of the government by ensuring health facilities in provinces will have sufficient capacity to take care of their constituents.

"Once we have well-equipped hospitals with increased bed capacities in the provinces, we can assure Filipinos that a better life is waiting for them in the rural community," he added.

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