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ABANTE TO DOH : GRANT NCGH PERMIT TO OPERATE

Deputy Speaker Benny Abante Jr. on Sunday called on the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to fast-track the accreditation of the National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH) so that its emergency room (ER) and inpatient services could be activated, and stressed that “with the country now in the middle of a pandemic, we need as many medical facilities as possible.”

Abante said that while he recognizes that there are issues concerning the accreditation of the NCGH, and acknowledges that this requirement is necessary to ensure the proper delivery of health services, “the DOH and PhilHealth must take several factors into consideration.”

Abante is the author of House Bill 3939, one of the bills in the consolidated measure that seeks to convert the NCGH into the NCGHRI.

“First, we all know our hospital capacity is incredibly strained because of the surge in COVID cases; kung may severe COVID ka, napakahaba po ng waitlist para ma-admit sa isang ospital,” lamented the solon.

“The overwhelming number of COVID cases also has an impact on the ability of hospitals to address other health concerns that require hospitalization. Obviously, we need more facilities that have functioning emergency rooms and can take in patients––not fewer,” added the lawmaker.

“Second, the NCGH is the only facility that specializes in geriatric care. If it is not allowed to provide all its services, then our senior citizens will have no other facility to turn to,” warned Abante.

While the NCGH still provides outpatient services––e.g., medicines, laboratory work, x-rays, and vaccines––that are free for all senior citizens, its ER and inpatient services have been inoperative since 2019, when PhilHealth required them to apply for a separate accreditation.

Its hemodialysis unit, however, remains operational because it has secured separate PhilHealth accreditation.

The Manila representative said the accreditation issues involving the NCGH highlight the urgency of establishing a National Geriatric Health and Research Institute (NCGHRI), a fully-operational hospital that will cater to health services specifically for the elderly.

“The NCGH is the only facility that specializes in geriatric care. If it is not allowed to provide all its services, then our senior citizens will have no other facility to turn to.”

Abante is the author of House Bill 3939, one of the bills in the consolidated measure that seeks to convert the NCGH into the NCGHRI.

“This pandemic, and this issue involving the accreditation of the NCGH, only emphasizes the need for a medical facility dedicated to geriatric care, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to expedite the passage of this measure so we can say to our senior citizens: yes, we care.”

The NCGHRI shall, among others: (1) equip, maintain, administer, and operate an integrated medical institution that specializes in geriatric health services; (2) provide and maintain affordable, quality, and timely hospital care through an efficient health service delivery system that prioritizes the need of the elderly; and (3) coordinate the various efforts and activities of other government agencies and local government units for the purpose of achieving effective approaches to the delivery of geriatric health services.

The consolidated measure has been  approved by members of both the House Committee on Health and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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