SPMC to become a 1,500-bed hospital soon

THE Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) will soon become the country's largest tertiary health care center, larger than the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, with the recent approval for it to be upgraded to a 1,500-bed hospital complete with additional staff.

This was announced by Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rossel-Ubial during the inauguration Thursday, December 8, of the SPMC Central ICU Building, Cancer Institute, Isolation Facility, House of Hope Annex and Candles of Hope Memorial.

The proposal to upgrade the capacity of the hospital has already gotten the nod of the Department of Health (DOH), as it has evolved to be the tertiary health facility that people in Mindanao go to.

Secretary Ubial said the improvements made in SPMC could not have been possible had it not been for the full support of the stakeholders.

In an earlier speech, SPMC Chief of Hospital Leopoldo Vega said the Central ICU was built for P140-million, of which P10 million came from hospital earnings and P130 million came from the Department of Health's allocation, while the Cancer Institute was built with P90 million from the National Government's General Appropriations Act in 2015 and P25 million from hospital income.

Admitting that people have long associated government health facilities with overcrowding, Ubial admits there is still a lot of work to be done.

"We have still a long way to go to give universal health care a higher priority," she said, assuring the health department is giving its all to be "responsive to the needs of the people."

Dr. Vega welcomed the announcement of additional beds and staff for SPMC but would prefer to wait for the Congress approval and implementation of the program.

"Nasa 1,200 beds na tayo ngayon, so that's an additional 300 beds (We have 1,200 beds now)," Vega said.

The 1,200 beds do not include the ones in the newly inaugurated facilities.

Ubial said alongside with the upgrade of tertiary hospitals like SPMC, part of the Duterte Administration's health program is providing quality care and facilities down to the communities.

"(A total of) P21 billion of the DOH budget has been allocated to improve barangay (village) health stations, medical health centers and peripheral hospitals para hindi na kayo lahat magsisiksikan dito (so you won't overcrowd here)," she said.

Ubial said by improving facilities and services at the village and municipal levels, only the very sick need to be brought to the tertiary hospitals for specialized treatments.
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