Gov’t-operated dialysis center opens at the SM Cebu mall

CEBU CITY—The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV), with the local officials of Cebu City and province, representatives from SM Malls and the private sector, formally opened Thursday a hemodialysis treatment facility at the Mountain Wing of SM Seaside City Cebu, managed and operated by the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).


According to OPAV Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, the dialysis center was a “real” private-public partnership (PPP) because it does not aim to gain profit, but to purely provide service to the people with compassion.

“This project is a joint-initiative of the public sector and the SM Group.  The Dialysis Center has 15 dialysis machines that can provide the health needs of those dialysis patients confined at the VSMMC,” Dino said.

Dino added that the expenses in the dialysis sessions will be covered by Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), and if it can no longer provide free treatment given its 90-session limit, the Malasakit Center could cover the excess costs.

Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella wrote DOH Secretary Francisco Duque on July 2 for the granting of the machines and it took only a month for its approval.  Labella saw the importance of this facility to protect the dialysis patients against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since these groups of people were considered individuals with co-morbidities and were vulnerable to the disease.

“Our experience is that many of our dialysis patients, who are not COVID patients, are scared to go to hospitals because their disease is only kidney disease, they are somewhat hesitant to go to the hospitals and are afraid that they might get the COVID virus,” Labella said.

Labella added that it was a welcome development because non-COVID-19 dialysis patients no longer worry because the facility is in the mall, and not in the hospital and practically isolated from the rest of the public.

The Province of Cebu has another Dialysis Center for those dialysis patients who are COVID-19 positive that is located at the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC).

He thanked the private sector groups including the SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) for their support and assistance in the establishment of the dialysis center at the mall.  The mayor also gave thanks to Iloilo First District representative Janette Garin for her assistance in making the dialysis center here possible.

The event was also attended by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia; Mayor Edgardo Labella; Dr. Gerardo Aquino, Chief of VSMMC; and representatives from SM Malls and private sector groups; Dr. Mary Jean Loreche; Cebu City Councilors Dave Tumulak and Renato Osmeña.