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Hontiveros: Let DOH set bed capacity of gov’t hospitals

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The Department of Health (DOH) should be given authority to set the bed capacity of public hospitals amid the surge of coronavirus infection in the country, Senator Risa Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said allowing DOH to set the bed occupancy rates of state-run hospitals will better prepare the country’s healthcare system for the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and other hotspots.

“Huwag na nating hintayin na ma-overwhelm ang mga hospital dito sa Metro Manila at sa ibang lugar na maraming kaso ng COVID-19,” said Hontiveros.

According to Hontiveros, the DOH should be empowered to set the bed capacity of public hospitals so they can easily upgrade their services during this crisis.

The senator made her call after several Metro Manila hospitals reported that their “intensive care units” handling COVID-19 patients are fast approaching their limit again, as cases of coronavirus infection continue to spike in the capital although the agency gave an assurance that government medical facilities are not yet overwhelmed compare to the case last March.

Hontiveros stressed that the government should already prepare for the possibility that Metro Manila hospitals will again reach their maximum capacity due to the growing number of COVID-19 patients, by ensuring that all hospitals fully comply with the DOH’s existing order to dedicate 30 percent of their bed capacity for coronavirus patients.

Hontiveros recently filed Senate Bill No. 863, which seeks to grant DOH the authority “to set and approve the bed occupancy rates of its retained hospitals.”

Under the bill, DOH will also be responsible for formulating guidelines on evaluating and rationalizing the bed capacity of public hospitals nationwide.

“It is much more prudent to delegate to DOH, which already has regulatory and administrative control over public hospitals, the function of setting and rationalizing the bed capacities of these hospitals. Masyadong matagal at magastos ang maya’t-mayang pagpasa ng batas para lang paisa-isang madagdagan ang kakayahan ng mga ospital,” she said.

Hontiveros said she hopes Congress will make the measure a priority once the 2nd Regular Session of the 18th Congress begins later this month.

“Let’s not wait for things to turn for the worse before we act. Ayaw na natin maulit ang mga kwento ng mga kababayan natin na namatayan ng kamag-anak dahil wala nang pampublikong ospital na maaring tumanggap at gumamot sa kanila,” she said.

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