Editorial: Cebu City Medical Center’s future

Editorial Cartoon by Enrico Santisas
Editorial Cartoon by Enrico Santisas

What would happen if Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) were run by a private entity? Should a resident whose family cannot afford to send a sick loved one to a private hospital worry about this scenario?

The construction of the new CCMC, the public hospital run by the Cebu City Government, seems to be taking forever. The work on the hospital’s last three upper floors, from the eighth to the 10th floors, has been stalled after Mayor Michael Rama terminated the contract between the City and the contractor due to delays.

Rama’s special assistant on special projects, lawyer Jerone Castillo, recently said that four Filipino private companies and a Chinese group of businessmen have pledged nearly P1 billion to complete the remaining floors, and they have also offered to run the hospital.

Castillo said the pledged money is enough to wrap up the construction of the new CCMC. The old hospital building was demolished after it was badly damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15, 2013. The construction of the new CCMC began in the second half of 2015, during Rama’s second term as mayor.

A 10-story hospital that is still incomplete after eight long years only shows how bad the government is when it comes to completing its public infrastructure projects.

Should a Cebu City resident fear the prospect of a public hospital being managed by a private entity?

Having a private entity run a public hospital has potential benefits, as it may have greater resources and expertise to manage the hospital efficiently and effectively. This could result in better quality of care, improved patient outcomes, and more efficient use of resources.

The private entity may also have more freedom to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances. Innovation is not easy when the government is the one managing the public hospital, as it could be hampered by politics.

Letting a private entity manage a government hospital also has potential risks. The company may be motivated primarily by profit, which could lead to a focus on revenue-generating services at the expense of less profitable but still important services. There may also be concerns about the accessibility and affordability of care, particularly for low-income and vulnerable populations.

During the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, there were efforts to modernize the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) in Quezon City through a public-private partnership (PPP) program. However, it fell through after the private entity (Megawide World Citi Consortium Inc.) terminated its contract to rehabilitate the POC after it failed to secure the lot for the project site in 2015.

The modernization of the POC was viewed by critics as privatization of the government hospital.

Rama said during the city’s 86th Charter Day last Feb. 24 that he wanted the CCMC to be fully operational by November 2023, which is eight months from now.

It is good to hear that the city’s chief executive has the resolve to finally finish the project that started in 2015.

It is also good to hear from the mayor what his other plans are for the future of the hospital.

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