A one-stop-shop health facility called “Malasakit Center” was inaugurated Sunday at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) to provide medical and financial assistance to poor Palaweños.
Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who said he would see how he can help speed up the modernization of health and medical facilities and services in local government hospitals, led the unveiling of the center and turned over a cheque for PHP5 million as an initial fund.
Go said once the amount has been consumed, it will be replenished by funds that will be drawn from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), PhilHealth, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“Programa ito para mapabilis ang proseso ng mga medical services hanggang maging zero balance billing sila [mga pasyente]. Tuloy-tuloy ang pondo nito at kapag naubos ay replenishable. Pera ninyo ito ibinabalik lang namin (This is a program to speed up the delivery of medical services to the patient until his bill becomes zero balance. This will continue and when it is consumed, it will be replenishable. This is the money of the people, we are just returning it),” he said.
Go said the center is a national government initiative to make all health agencies accessible to patients confined in government-run hospitals.
Private hospitals can also request to have the same center but Go said the priority to have the Malasakit Centers are government-owned hospitals.
“We will speak to hospital authorities on how we can help modernize the hospital itself so patients here don’t need to go to private hospitals,” he said.
The financial assistance was received for the ONP Malasakit Center by 47 patients in the male medical ward.
Go said the center will be “immediately operational,” adding that the memorandum of agreement had been signed earlier with the concerned agencies.
He said it “ought to relieve indigent patients of the hassle of providing and submitting the documentary requirements in order for them to access various medical assistance and services at the provincial hospital.”
Go said altogether, the departments can help lessen the medical bill of a patient to a price he can afford, and even up to zero bills.
The main priorities of Malasakit Center are Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
“Especially po, prayoridad din namin ‘yong mga PWDs, ‘yong mga disabled, at ‘yong mga senior citizens. Kailangan ang mga senior citizen, dito na pumapasok ‘yong mga sakit at ayaw na natin bigyan ng mga burden ‘yong mga anak nila (Our priorities are the PWDs, those who are disabled, and the senior citizens. This should be relevant to our senior citizens to lessen the burden of their families),” Go said.
There are five Malasakit Centers in the Philippines: one in Manila, one in Davao, and three in Visayas.
Dr. Melecio Dy, ONP chief, said they will implement all the mandated Malasakit Center policies, including the “No Balance Bill.”
“Pipilitin natin na ma-implement lahat ng mga policies hanggang mawalan ng balance lahat ng mag-a-avail na patients. ‘Yong pondo naman [na five million] ili-liquidate lang namin tapos ire-replenish ng national government. Kaya kailangan lang mabilis kami sa liquidation (We will try to implement all the policies until patients here leave without balances. We will liquidate the fund so it can be replenished. What we need to do is just to speed up our liquidation processing),” Dy said.
He added that the center will temporarily operate for eight hours until such time they have enough personnel to manage a 24-hour operation.
Go arrived here on Saturday night and was welcomed at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport by Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, members of the City Council, heads of other public and private offices, and his supporters.
He met with Sangguniang Kabataan leaders at the Provincial Capitol, where he had a dialogue with them on current issues. (PNA)