Timely upgrade for Siargao hospital as House bill nears enactment

By Ellson Quismorio 

Popular tourist destination Siargao will soon have the benefit of a Level 2 hospital even as the national government continues to ensure the countryside's preparedness in handling COVID-19 cases.

Surigao del Norte 1st district Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas (CONG BINGO MATUGAS / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN) Surigao del Norte 1st district Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas (CONG BINGO MATUGAS / FACEBOOK / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Surigao del Norte 1st district Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas filed last February 20, 2020 House Bill (HB) No.6365, which seeks to upgrade the Siargao District Hospital in the Municipality of Dapa to a Level 2 general hospital, to be known as the Siargao Island Medical Center or SIMC.

Four months later, the SIMC bill is awaiting President Duterte's signature for enactment, Matugas said on Friday.

“This will help us address the lack of appropriate equipment and facilities in the island's hospital and improve the delivery of quality medical and healthcare services in the locality especially in these crucial times,” the Mindanao solon said.

A Level 2 hospital contains all the elements of Level 1, as well as additional facilities like an intensive care unit (ICU) for critically ill patients as well as specialist doctors like pediatricians and gynecologists.

The congressman filed the measure a few weeks after the Philippines confirmed its first positive case of the deadly respiratory disease known as COVID-19. Swift action by the House of Representatives led to its third reading passage last March 9.

The bill received a huge boost toward enactment after the Senate unanimously approved a counterpart bill sponsored by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go before Congress' sine die adjournment in early June.

Through the measure, the Siargao District Hospital is expected to get upgraded professional medical services and facilities attuned to the huge growth potential of Surigao del Norte’s most prestigious island.

It seeks to increase the bed capacity of the state-run hospital from 50 to 100, aside from placing it under the direct supervision and control of the Department of Health (DOH).

Matugas said the enactment of the bill will also see an increase in the workforce of SIMC, including doctors, nurses, and support personnel.

The Surigao lawmaker lauded Senator Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, for effectively ushering the approval of specific legislation such as the Siargao hospital upgrade and make it more responsive to the needs of the community especially in times of a public health emergency.

Last week, President Duterte signed three bills seeking to upgrade three local hospitals. One of the bills was the Matugas-backed HB no. 1477 (now known as Republic Act No. 11472) which increases the bed capacity of the Caraga Regional Hospital (CRH) in Surigao City from 150 to 500 beds.

CRH’s average bed occupancy rate from 2017 to 2018 was at 207.37 percent, way above the national standard of 85 percent.