PRRD admin retains ‘for poor’ mandate of Orthopedic Center

MANILA The administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte has retained the mandate of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) as the primary orthopedic specialist hospital for poor patients amid concerns of privatization in the past administration, a hospital official said.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday, POC medical center chief Jose Pujalte Jr. said the Duterte administration's 'Build, Build, Build' program does not only include road and transport infrastructures but also covered health facilities such as POC.

"Hindi ito nangyari maraming taon na ang nakaraan, ngayon lang kami nabibigyan ng pagkakataon at nabibigyang pansin(The building of new infrastructures did not happen for many years, it's only now that we are given the chance and given attention)," Pujalte said.

Pujalte said the POC almost became a publicprivate partnership project in the past administration, raising concerns from both patients and POC employees.

Pujalte acknowledged that while privatization may bring some benefits like improvement of facilities, the POC may lose its mandate of providing cheap healthcare to indigent patients.

"'Yung mga tao sa ground, kami 'yung nakakakita na itong ospital na ito, since 1945, kami talaga yung tumatanggap sa mga nababalian at may mga problema sa buto at kasukasuan na walang pambayad. Kaya ang unang tanong rin ng mga empleyado, saan pupunta yung mga mahihirap? (We people on the ground see that this hospital, since 1945, has been the one accepting indigent patients with problems on their bones and joints. That is why employees ask where will the indigent patients go if the hospital gets privatized?)," Pujalte said.

Pujalte said the Duterte administration has provided funds for the building of new facilities without getting private sector intervention.

"Nakita namin na sa administrasyon na ito, hindi kailangan umasa sa pribadong sektor sapagkat ngayon nakakapagtayo kami ng bagong gusali, pera mismo ng gobyerno, hindi kailangan umasa o maging partner ang pribadong sektor, kaya naman pala ng gobyerno kung talagang bibigyang pansin at bibigyan ng pagasa yung ospital na umunlad (We saw in this administration that there is no need to rely on the private sector because now we were able to build a new structure from government money, we did not rely or partner with the private sector. We have seen that the government can do it if really given attention and hope that the hospital would develop)," Pujalte said.

In addressing parents and child patients at POC, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said Duterte is sincere in reforming the healthcare in the country.

"Pinapangako ko sa inyo na inaayos ito. Hinihiling ko lang ang pasensya ninyo at siguro yung patawad ninyo na medyo mabagal (I vow that this is being fixed. I am just asking for your patience and apologies that this process may take a little bit slow)," Badoy said.

The previous administration has signed a contract with a private firm to modernize POC in 2015 but the private company backed out after delays in the Department of Health's release of the certificate of possession for the project site.

The privatization proposal was heavily protested by POC patients and employees. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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