Under Aquino, Philippine Heart Center further hardens its heart against the poor

Dr Chuachiaco said that in April 2010 “we served the same number of patients compared to a year before.” But he asked their “supposed managers” to be more vigilant in spending. Saying they have only P8-million net budget per month, “we spent P6-million plus more than the allotted budget for charity patients that month.”

According to Madlang-awa, the empty beds for indigent patients at the charity wards not only put to question the present hospital executives’ “understanding of what government institutions stand for,” including the Philippine Hear Center’s reason for being, it also puts at risk the clinical research and training in the only subspecialty referral center for cardiovascular diseases in the Philippines.

Going for profit

Dr Chuachiaco called on the Philippine Heart Center employees to bear a little more with the situation as he said the Commission on Audit told him the benefits for health workers will come only from savings of hospitals. Even the Dec 2010 memo conditioned the resumption of treating service patients to the time the Philippine Heart Center could pay its debts.

But without the government bailing out the Philippine Heart Center, it has no hope of saving, and losses may continue, Carmona told bulatlat.com.

“Definitely we needed an increased budget,” said Chuachiaco. “I don’t know why instead of increasing our budget, the national government even slashed it.” He added that instead of going to the military, the budget should have gone to health.

With a meager budget of P122million (US$2.8m) this year (compared to military hospitals’ P1-billion [$23.2m] each) following years of continued cutbacks, the Philippine Heart Center has “had progressive annual net losses mainly because of accruing accounts receivables at more than P300-million ($6.9m) and accounts payable that is more than P800-million ($18.6m)”, Dr Madlang-awa quoted the new assistant director for administrative services, Mr Francisco M. Gomez Jr., when the latter gave a presentation during the hospital’s second quarterly medical staff meeting last May.

Doctors fear that closing its doors on charity patients could choke its mandate and weaken its cardiovascular expertise. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)

The years of slashed budgets have resulted in the severely reduced servicing of indigent patients, the reduced benefits of the hospital employees, and, as health workers fear, the risk of final or formal privatization of the Philippine Heart Center.

“We cannot allow our institution, dedicated to serve cardiovascular patients, to fall into the hands of the profiteering private sector,” said Elmer Collong, president of the Philippine Heart Center Employees’ Association, an affiliate of Alliance of Health Workers.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the top ten illnesses and killers in the Philippines.

The health workers urged President Aquino to be true to his campaign promises, such as prioritizing health. As Madlang-awa wrote, “any government health facility practically operates to lose money for free services to the citizenry most especially its indigents.” She explained that actually, “there isn’t any loss as free health service is prudent use of taxpayers’ money so that healthy citizens can become productive. Productive citizens contribute to the GDP.” (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. so embarrasing and so helpless filipino poor who could not avail the possible treatment needed when they have no money

  2. My son was diagnosed of congenital heart problem and just had an emergency open heart surgery at the Philippine Heart Center last Sept.17. We aren’t rich so you could just imagine what we had to go through to put my baby in the OR. We had to pay a downpayment of 180,000 php before he’ll be admitted. I couldnt imagine what kind of government hospital is this, so if you’re poor and cannot show the money, then you’ll literally just die. They have a pre admission room, where they will ask you everything about our finances, your properties, your salary, everything! Before they’ll admit you to te room. I asked what if I fail that assessment, the in charge told me, they’ll refer me back to the doctor to talk about other possible options, because they dont want to add so much burden on us, what a lame excuse!
    Please president, if you can read this, is this what you promised us? Is this what matuwid na daan means? This is basic, healthcare, but we dont feel that you care, why spend on guns? Why not on us? On your people? Who will hold those guns for you anyway if we’re all gonna be sick and weak?? Please hear us.. It’s not yet too late.

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