Wednesday, September 29, 2021

VSMMC woes

THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas was asked to investigate six officials of a state-run hospital in Cebu City over the allegedly irregular claim of proceeds released by Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

A group of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) employees asked Deputy Ombudsman Paul Elmer Clemente to look into questionable amendments introduced by hospital officials on the Department of Health (DOH) administrative order so they could receive a bigger share from hospital-accredited health care institutions.

The respondents are Dr. Gerardo Aquino, chief of the hospital’s executive committee (Execom); Roque Paradela, chief of clinics; Celia Mabalatan, chief training officer; Maricon Esparagoza, chief administrative officer; Maureen Bien, finance department head; and Sarah Sanchez, chief nurse.

“Isn’t it unfair and disadvantageous to us for the Execom to issue a self-seeking resolution designed for their own personal interest? Considering that there are only few members of the Execom, they naturally receive a bigger share than the rest of us,” the complainants said.

Under Administrative Order 42 issued by DOH in 2001, all health department-retained and renationalized hospitals are mandated to create a “common” fund where the professional fees for services rendered to Medicare patients are pooled and distributed among hospital workers.

The law covers all full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, casual, contractual, or from the medical pool, medical or non-medical hospital employees.

But the complainants pointed out that professional fees are pooled by health care institutions.

Some 70 percent goes to improving the delivery of quality health services though the purchase of new medical equipment and drugs.

The remainder goes to doctors and non-medical personnel for services rendered.

Of the 30 percent, the money is supposed to be distributed equally among doctors and non-medical personnel.

Instead of complying with the scheme, VSMMC officials allegedly revised the memorandum and issued a resolution so they could get a certain percentage from the 30 percent.

The complainants said they don’t know the exact percentage.

“It is to our much regret that the Execom has never been transparent to the employees as to the amount of common funds for a particular quarter, how much was returned to the hospital, how much was being shared by the employees and the method of sharing,” they said.

Members of the Execom allegedly received a bigger share as a result of the amendment.

They and the medical center chief allegedly received P220,000 and P250,000, respectively, for the third quarter last year.

Non-medical personnel got P22,000 each, while the medical group got P66,000 each.

The complainants also asked the anti-graft office to investigate the respondents for the purchase of allegedly overpriced hospital equipment.

“This practice of overpricing and contractor monopoly is (a) glaring sign of corruption and is common knowledge in VSMMC only that most of the employees are afraid to complain because of the vindictive attitude of the medical center chief and the Execom members,” the complainants said.

In a press statement, VSMMC management said the hospital has yet to receive the official complaint from the ombudsman. Only then will it issue an official statement.

However, it said that similar complaints were filed before the ombudsman and these had been resolved.

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