Senator Bong Go recently opened in Baguio City the 50th Malasakit Center in the country under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The center will serve as a one-stop-shop for easy access to medical and financial assistance needed to receive health care services.

Go, together with Presidential Assistant for Visayas Michael Dino, turned over a check worth P5 million from the Office of the President (OP) and another P5 million check as additional medical assistance for indigent patients, or a total of P10 million initial fund of the center.

The fund will have to be liquidated by the center and will continuously be replenished to avoid its depletion.

This will be used to cover the amount that the indigent patients need after deducting the aid from the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The four government agencies will be stationed at the center, Go said.

“They do not even have to waste their time begging from offices for money to settle the hospital bills.”

“Wala ng silang iisipin pa na babayaran dahil gobyerno na ang bahala. Hindi na rin nila kailangan pang mag-ikot wa ibat-ibang opisina para ipang bayad sa ospital (They [indigent patients] do not have to worry anymore because the government will take care of it. They do not even have to waste their time begging from offices for money to settle the hospital bills. They will have a zero billing after),” the legislator said.

The lawmaker shared the Senate bill institutionalizing the Malasakit Center has been approved on second reading recently.

The senator hopes that it will be approved for the third and final reading, noting that a counterpart bill at the House of Representatives is on the second reading.

“Hopefully, this will be passed before the end of the year.” 

“Hopefully, this will be passed before the end of the year so that the center will be fully operationalized with continuity. The bill will provide for the criteria that need to be established before it will be opened in a local government unit-run hospital. For DOH-run, it will be automatic,” he said.

The bill, when made into law, will practically protect the operation of the 50 Malasakit Centers in the country.

Go said he discussed with Benguet governor Melchor Diclas, a surgeon, the process of setting up a facility for the Malasakit Center at Benguet General Hospital.

“Sa Benguet malapit na rin matapos, siguro nakita nila governor na nakakatulong sa Pilipino. Isa lang aming layunin- mapabilis ang serbisyo medikal sa pasyente (The Benguet center is almost complete which they probably saw helps the Filipinos. This center has only one goal and that is to fast-track medical services for the patients),” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ricardo Runez, medical center chief of BGHMC, said the hospital receives about 1,500 outpatients daily and an average of 40,000 in-patients annually.

The BGHMC is an 800-bed capacity tertiary hospital that caters to patients from the Cordillera Administrative Region and Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley) and 3 (Central Luzon). The services of the Malasakit Center will be received by any indigent patient regardless of whether they are from Baguio or any region in the country.

Runez said around 90 percent of BGHMC patients are indigents, who will benefit from the services of the Malasakit Center.

“Di na sila mag-iisp ng panggastos sa hospital, di na nila problema (They will no longer be concerned with the cost of hospitalization. It would no longer be their problem),” he said.

Runez, however, said the patient will be evaluated by a social worker to ensure that indigent patients are the ones who will benefit.

He said before, patients lose hope due to lack of money to cash-out for hospital bills, which will be addressed by the Malasakit Center.

“Basta indigent, kung ano ang hospital bill binabayaran ng Malasakit Center (As long as they are indigents, their hospital bills will be settled by the Malasakit Center),” Runez said.


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