ORMOC CITY – Leyte governor Carlos Jericho “Icot” Petilla, Department of Health director Dr. Edgardo Gonzaga, Congressman Eufrocino Codilla Sr., Ormoc mayor Eric Codilla, officers of the Ormocanon International and mayors of towns of the 4th district, led the list of dignitaries who attended the blessing and inauguration of the newly refurbished sections of the Ormoc District Hospital this Friday, March 19, 2010, in what could be said as the perfect example of successful collaboration between the public and private sector.
Inaugurated to deliver quality service to the public soon were a new and well-furnished emergency room, operating room, delivery room, recovery room, laboratory and pediatric wards, all painted in candy colors attractive to the eye and spreading a spirit of wellness. The provincial government also took the occasion as an opportunity to bless five (5) new ambulances to be given to five district hospitals in Villaba, Palompon, Carigara, Burauen and Hilongos. Unfortunately, only four made it because the one intended for Villaba met an accident along the way, reportedly at the highway along Hisumco at Montebello, Kananga, Leyte.
In the program that followed, the key personalities that made the affair possible, bared their involvements in the various projects.
Dr. Norberto Oja welcomed the dignitaries and related the events that led to the day’s celebration. He also thanked all those who lent their support to the projects, big and small.
Oja’s short speech was followed by that of Mayor Eric Codilla and Dr. Edgardo Gonzaga.
The governor’s speech, longish as it was, was frank and honest. With alternating humor characteristic of his speeches, the governor lauded the newly refurbished and renovated hospital facilities as “Humot na ang mga kwarto unya ang hospital mura na ug hotel…pwede na masakit”, he said. (The rooms smell good, almost like hotels… now, we can get sick.)
He also lauded the Ormocanon International for coming through with the challenge of helping government in its gigantic task, rather than complain at the sidelines and be fence-sitters.
He also emphasized that while he has done away with the mentality of the past when people went to government hospitals to get free service, but does not blink an eye to spend on tuba or videoke, government hospitals were still around mainly to serve the indigent.
Since he became governor six years ago, Petilla has imposed that services at provincial-run hospitals are not for free, except to people who can prove that they are really indigents.
He said that based in his personal experience, a lot of the citizens spent so much money in other concerns than health care. No wonder they always fall short in paying for health services. This time, he added, he wanted to end that vicious cycle and teach people to value health.
During the period, he also called on private organizations and concerned residents to help improve their own hospitals, so that they will not anymore go to Cebu or Manila for a simple confinement. The first to respond to his call were expatriates from Baybay City, which set the example for Ormocanon International.
Another provincial-run hospital, the Palompon General Hospital, is also a recipient of the generosity of expats from the town and even foreign donors eager to help.
The governor also emphasized that private hospitals thrived where government hospitals are present, because they served the paying clients while government hospitals served the less fortunate and indigents.
Take away the government hospitals, he said, and the private ones will close down. And when this happens, not only the poor are deprived of hospital service but even the middle and working class.
“Kining tanan ato gibuhat aron tabangan ang mga kabus”, he said, after explaining the wisdom of his policies.
For their part, Jigs Maglasang, local vice-president of the Ormoc International gave the audience a short history of the organization. He said that it was realized after the congressman threw a party for the city’s balikbayans a few years ago, where the idea of forming the group surfaced.
Since then, the group has made ODH one of its favorite charities, leading to the decision of adopting a wing that it would renovate. The wing that the group adopted was the pediatric ward which was totally renovated.
Maglasang said that they took no shortcuts in the repairs that even still functioning water closets were replaced. Bobby Quinto, the organization’s president, reportedly told them everything has to be new.
He added that new hospital beds from Canada are on the way to Ormoc, again the result of the efforts of Ormocanons now based there.
The Balikbayan organization poured in over a million for the pediatric ward repair. They are also studying schemes on how to dispense medicines to indigent Ormocanons, but Gov. Petilla, when told of this during a private conference, said the group should study the proposal well as it might again breed a new mentality that medicines in the hospital are for free.
He added that no matter how noble the idea is, the province cannot afford to send their social workers to investigate every other case that claims to be indigent, just so to avail of the free meds.
Maglasang, on the other hand, said they would study the implications of their proposal well.
Meanwhile, it was learned that the other newly renovated areas of the hospital was jointly financed by the provincial government and the DOH.
Dr. Edgardo M. Gonzaga said that the funds came from the Office of the President. A priority was the operating and obstetrics department, after high maternal mortality rate was noted in its service area.
He said that with the new facilities, hopefully the statistics would lower. The renovations are also part of its move to raise the level of ODH status to a tertiary hospital, for patients covered by PhilHealth to be able to avail of full coverage. By Rommel Quilantang and Lalaine M. Jimenea