Senator sees need to uplift healthcare

SENATOR Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said there should be an intensified aid to the development of the Rural Healthcare System, after visiting and consulting with the heads of the Baguio General Hospital-Medical Center, the lone government-run tertiary hospital in the city.

Ejercito, the chairperson of the Senate’s Committee on Health and Urban Planning, met Dr. Ricardo Runez Jr., the medical center chief, who explained the plight and developmental concerns regarding the 115 year-old facility, with a 500 bed capacity serving the regions patients and referrals from neighboring regions.

“There is a need to expand our infrastructure as the medical facility is the catchment of patients coming from Baguio, Bontoc, Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Tarlac and Pampanga,” said Dr. Runez Jr.

The senator said his reason in his visits to the different tertiary and other government hospitals around the country is to have a firsthand look into the problems of the nation’s healthcare system.

“Being also the co-chair in the Senate Finance Committee, I want to hear from the different heads of these Government Healthcare Facilities on their priorities so I could defend their budget calls when we resume our senate hearings,” Ejercito said.

On the expansion project, Dr. Runez Jr. laments that the hospital’s proposed expansion to increase its patient bed capacity is marred by informal settlers who now occupy an estimated 120,594 square meters out of the facility’s lot are of 24.5 hectares.

To address the issue, the senator said he would also ask the National Housing Authority for possible funding, on housing infrastructure for these informal settlers as long as the hospital and the local government of Baguio could provide and identify a relocation site.

“But this has to be provided by the local government, otherwise prolonging the relocation will impede further developments not only in healthcare but the infrastructure,” Ejercito added.

“Likewise, proper identification and documentation of these informal settlers must also be validated, to prevent further problems,” the senator added.

Dr. Runez also shared problems on the hospital’s manpower as the 500 bed capacity hospital exceeded most of the time, giving healthcare workers more work to handle.

Ejercito said he will try to study and defend the facility’s budget proposal during their hearing, as the tertiary hospital’s budget comes from the national government.

“It really needs development in adding more beds and hospital buildings as I see patients already in the corridors,” Ejercito laments after seeing the plight of the patients crowded in corridors and in wards.

“How can a patient even rest and recuperate well when he is just beside the corridor where people walk pass every minute and every hour,” said the senator.
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