Hospitals demand reconsideration on penalties

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Private and public hospitals in the city are seeking reconsideration of the penalty of P20,000 imposed by the health department on their non-compliance to the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act mandating all government and private hospitals to allocate at least 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of their current authorized bed capacity to accommodate and service Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.

During a recent meeting organized by the city with concerned government agencies and public and private hospital officials, Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong stated that the imposition of the prescribed penalty against government and private hospitals that are not able to meet the aforesaid mandate should be avoided because of various factors beyond the control of the hospitals where such imposition might result to further problems rather than solutions.

Some private hospital owners claimed that because of the ongoing pandemic, their operational expenses doubled because they need to designate frontliners who will exclusively handle COVID cases separate from those attending to non-COVID cases topped by the huge expenses incurred for personal protective equipment, among other required supplies.

On the other hand, a number of private hospital officials claimed that they had to reduce their bed capacity to manageable numbers as the health facilities have to close the operation of some of their rooms to sustain their continuous operations and that they prefer to be imposed the prescribed fines rather than incurring more losses they may no longer recover from which may lead to their closure.

Further, the hospital officials raised that the alleged delayed reimbursements from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) has caused heavy losses for private hospitals.

However, PHIC representatives disclosed that the delayed release of the reimbursements of hospitals is due to the alleged inaccurate and incomplete entries in filling up the required documents.

Magalong offered to the different government and private hospitals the use of the Laurel Dorm 2 as the isolation facility for their health workers who are asymptomatic to mild to help decongest the hospitals for these to accommodate severe cases.

Earlier, the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) allocated some 180 beds of its 600 beds for COVID cases, equivalent to the prescribed beds for COVID patients pursuant to the mandate of the law.

The Baguio Medical Center and the St. Louis University (SLU) Hospital of the Sacred Heart were the only compliant private hospitals to the prescribed regulations with the former allocating 29.16 percent of its 24-bed capacity or 7 beds, and the latter, setting aside 25 beds out of its 120 bed capacity, or 20.83 percent of its bed capacity.

The Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital and the Pines City Doctors Hospital recorded compliance rates of 10.4 percent and 6.36 percent, respectively on the prescribed number of COVID beds. By Dexter A. See

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