Senators urge NKTI, PHC to return to full specialty hospital status

Published October 13, 2021, 5:36 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Two senators on Wednesday, Oct. 13 expressed hope that the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) and the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) would finally return to normal operations as a specialized hospital despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

During the hearing of the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH) and its attached agencies, Senator Nancy Binay said she believes it is high-time that the NKTI and PHC to go back to their purpose as specialty hospitals.

“I think this is something we can ask the DOH, moving forward as we live with COVID-19, at some point, the PHC, NKTI, should be back to their primary purpose,” Binay said during the hearing.

NKTI Executive Director Marie Liquette told Sen. Pia Cayetano that they saw a drop in the number of kidney transplant operations performed at the hospital as they have to protect transplant patients. The NKTI also converted some of their units into COVID wards.

To this, Cayetano asked the NKTI to consider “future-proofing” their operations so they can go back to its normal system of operations as more people are getting vaccinated.

“Your specialty is renal function, so if somebody has COVID, or was exposed to COVID but has a renal function, we have no problems there,”

“But what we are saying is you should no longer be a general referral for COVID (patients). Are we clear on that?” Cayetano appealed, to which Liquette replied “Yes, hopefully.”

PHC Executive Director Joe Abanilla also said the PHC wants to return back to normal operations but they also have to admit any staff who got COVID-19.

“We need to admit them too… unfortunately, the most critical complication of COVID is cardiovascular as well,” he said.

Cayetano said she and Binay will take up the matter with the DOH as they want the NKTI and PHC to return to their normal operations.

“We do hope that you go back to a new normal. We would like Filipinos to be able to avail of your services,” she said.