Monday, August 10, 2009

What we at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan are doing to improve the services at the Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr Memorial Hospital

I haven't blogged in Multiply for the longest time. Parang napabayaan ko na ito sa Facebook.

Starting today, I will update my contacts here in Multiply and Facebook on what's been happening at the Provincial Capitol.

For my first entry, I will talk about the Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital (GRBASMH).

GRBASMH is the Provincial Hospital of Ilocos Norte. It was a project of my late grandfather when he was still governor in 1939. That's the reason why it was named after him. For the record, the Ablan family does NOT own GRBASMH, the same way the Aquino family does not own the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. GRBASMH is PGIN property. It is located in Laoag City and is a tertiary level hospital.

I don't know the quality of service at GRBASMH or ownership thereof prior to 1991, but I know after the passage of the Local Government Code, HEALTH CARE was devolved from the National Government (DOH) to the LGUs. And since that time, I've heard, the quality of service rendered in GRBASMH has deteriorated.

From my studies, the reason why service is bad is because the PGIN was not prepared or trained to operate a hospital. This problem is not unique to Ilocos Norte--there are dozens of public tertiary hospitals out there that are poorly managed by local governments.

At present, the GRBASMH is handled like a typical gov't office. It submits a yearly budget along with other offices to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan at around September-October and then we scrutinize it. We approve their budget in November and the Governor signs the Annual Budget in December.

The problem with this set-up is that unlike other local gov't offices that can be sustained with a fixed annual budget, a hospital can't. For example, there may be medicines/supplies available in January (since it's the start of Quarter 1), but come February and March, the hospital would run out of these supplies. It has to wait for Quarter 2 (April) to come in for the 2nd release of funds. The same problem appears at the end of Q2, Q3 and Q4.

Another setback is that what the hospital earns in a year does not necessarily mean it will also get the same amount for its budget the next year. For example, let's say the hospital earned 20 million in 2008. In 2009, it won't get 20 million. It will probably get 15-17 million only. The 3 million goes to some other department. This is because all the income of the hospital goes to the general fund of the PGIN. Kaya nag-de-deteriorate yung services sa ospital. Hindi ginaganahan ang mga doctors and staff kasi yung hirap at pagod nila, hindi naman bumabalik. Walang incentive to work hard.

A third dilemma was the outdated rate of the medical/laboratory fees. Some were not changed since 1992! And it turned out that the hospital was subsidizing a lot of the services it was rendering for a long time, which I felt was counter-productive.


Well, for starters, we updated the rates of the medical/laboratory fees. Para mabawasan na yung malaking subsidy na pati yung mga non-indigent eh nakikinabang.

Second, we authorized Gov. Keon to hire Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital's Dr. Otayza to take over the management of the GRBASMH. She brought with her her training on managing a profitable, efficient and service-oriented healthcare center.

Third, we created a trust fund for medicines and laboratory materials. So instead of going back to the general fund, income from medicines and laboratory materials go to a special revolving fund that would be used to purchase more medicines and laboratory materials.

Last, the Governor, Dr. Otayza, Dr. and Board Member Castro, and we at the SP are currently drafting an ordinance converting the GRBASMH into an economic enterprise, similar to the ones in Negros Oriental, Pangasinan and La Union, so that in the future GRBASMH would be self-sustaining.

So, there. That's what your local legislators are doing to improve the delivery of health services here in the Province.

See, your taxes are working!

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