THE vision to construct a community hospital in San Simon town is finally a step closer after Mayor Abundio Punsalan Jr. was able to source funds for its construction.
Punsalan said the local government has a savings of P20 million from years 2019 and 2020, which can be used for the construction of the community hospital and a central power house.
On Tuesday, May 4, the mayor asked for a Municipal Council special session to tackle and approve the ordinance authorizing a supplemental budget for the said projects.
The special session, however, did not push through due to lack of quorum as only six of the councilors were present.
Meanwhile, Punsalan stressed the need to immediately construct the community hospital to boost the healthcare services amid the pandemic.
"The proposed hospital is seen only basic services first but they are vital specially now when healthcare facilities prioritize Covid-19 patients and those who need simple services are shun away," he said.
This was seconded by Committee on Health Councilor Keko Almario, who said that Simonians go around Pampanga every day to look for quality but affordable, if not free, healthcare.
"Every day, I assist sick people to hospitals to ensure that they will be taken care of but we can better assure that if the hospital is right here in our own town," Almario said.
Punsalan added that its construction has long been overdue since the funds originally intended for the hospital were used for relief operations during the implementation of enhanced and modified enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
He also assured that they have consulted experts that ensured that the P18-million funds will be enough for the construction of the structure.
He clarified, however, that equipment and other hospital materials are not included in the initial funding.
If the budget is approved, Municipal Engineer Benigno Bonus is looking at six months construction timeline to finish the one-story 40-bed hospital.
"If the SB (Municipal Council) approves the budget in the next session, we are looking at a newly-constructed community hospital by the end of the year," he said.
Meanwhile, Committee on Rules Chairman Councilor Beda Pineda said the inclusion of the supplemental budget in the calendar of activities was not approved on Tuesday, May 4.
This means that there is no agenda to be discussed for the special session so assembling of the legislative body has no basis.
"I recommended that we discuss it instead during our regular session scheduled on Friday so we will have more time to think about it. I was hoping that we could discuss it first in the committee before officially including it in our agenda," he said.
He said some councilors are actually requesting the mayor to prioritize Covid-related programs and projects such as for the procurement of vaccines as it is a more pressing concern today.
"Instead of building structures such as the municipal hall annex building and a hospital, we thought that allocating funds for Covid-19 response is more necessary as the end of the pandemic is still far from sight," Pineda said.
Pineda clarified, however, that he is not against the construction of hospital but is only looking at better things to prioritize during the pandemic.
Councilor Dading Santos, who co-sponsored the ordinance, for his part, assured that the Municipal Council is not junking the funds for the construction of the hospital.
He said it will automatically be included in the next session's calendar of business and will be tackled fairly by the Municipal Council members.
"We will require all necessary documents such as certification from finance that budget is available for use," Santos said.
He also assured that funds that were initially intended for Covid-19 vaccines and response will not be affected.