NHA assures relocation site for 99 informal settler families

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BAGUIO CITY – The National Housing Authority (NHA) has assured a decent relocation site for at least 99 informal settler families, who had to move out of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) compound to give way to its expansion.

“I assure you that under President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s administration, resettlement housing will be decent and convenient,” NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. told the media here after a meeting with the BGHMC management over the weekend.

Escalada, however, asked the informal settlers to cooperate with the hospital administration and the NHA.

Receiving an average of 800 patients a day, way beyond its present capacity of 500 beds, the state-run BGHMC serves the entire Cordillera and neighboring regions.

The hospital recorded an average occupancy rate of 144.14 percent in 2016 and 116.76 percent in 2017, which is why hallways are also being used to accommodate patients.

“Na-approve na ang law. Napirmahan na ni Presidente yung expansion from 500 to 800 beds. Pero ang tanong, saan natin idadagdag yung additional 300 beds? (The law has been approved. The President has signed it. But the question is: Where are we going to place the additional 300 beds?)” BGHMC Medical Director Dr. Ricardo Runez Jr. told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.

Duterte signed on Sept. 26 the law allowing BGHMC to raise its capacity from the present 500 beds to 800.

Runez said the hospital management does not intend to relocate everyone, but will only recover the areas actually needed for the expansion of the hospital.

The BGHMC reservation, he said, has a total of 25 hectares, five hectares of which are being used by the hospital, while about 7.5 hectares are occupied by some 300 informal settler families. The rest have been identified as forestry and watershed areas.

Runez said BGHMC’s planned expansion will need an additional 2.5 hectares.

“For the additional beds, it’s all good. But for the additional facility, like the heart center, renal center, trauma center, and brain center, that’s where we will be needing more space for the expansion,” he said.

Runez said while the area occupied by informal settlers is about 7.5 hectares, the hospital will only ask for the areas it will actually need for the expansion, which is 2.5 hectares.

He said to give way to the construction of a renal center, about 99 families will be initially affected.

According to Runez, there exists an agreement between the past administrations of the BGHMC and the hospital’s former employees, who had built houses in the facility, that they will vacate the property when the hospital needs the space.

He, however, assured that they will not demolish any of the houses of the informal settlers until there is a relocation site, a rule that Duterte himself has laid down.

He said the hospital has a proposed relocation site for the informal settlers — a three-storey tenement housing with 144 units.

Runez said the renal center would increase the number of BGHMC’s hemodialysis machines from 30 at present to 100, to accommodate the increasing number of renal patients.

Of BGHMC’S total number of patients, 44 percent are Baguio residents, 21.38 percent are from Benguet, 19.4 percent from Pangasinan, 4.52 percent from La Union, 2.07 percent from Nueva Ecija, 1.76 from Mountain Province, 1.13 percent from Nueva Vizcaya, 0.98 percent from Ifugao, and 4.4 percent from other provinces.

Funding sources

Runez said the BGHMC is benefitting from the government’s collection of sin taxes, where the hospital’s modernization fund was sourced.

He said 80 percent of the tax collection share it gets from the government is used to subsidize the medical needs of indigent patients. The remaining 20 percent is being used for hospital development and modernization.

“As of now, we are constructing the trauma center that will house the 100 beds. The multi-specialty center will house the 200 beds,” he explained.

For 2018, BGHMC received PHP170 million for the three-storey trauma center and another PHP170 million for the initial funding of the construction of the multi-specialty center.

The trauma center has a total construction budget of PHP400 million, while the specialty center needs a total construction budget of PHP500 million.

“Our vision is for the trauma and the specialty center to be functional by 2022,” Runez said.

The multi-specialty building will be an eight-storey structure for the heart center, lung center, brain center, and trauma center. The renal center and the psychiatric complex will have separate buildings.

Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing, and resettlement, promised during his visit here over the weekend that they will do their best at the Senate to look for funds to finish the construction of the additional hospital facilities and the money to make the facilities operational so they would not become mere white elephants if not completed.

“These are most needed by our people. We will find ways,” Ejercito said.

The hospital also seeks to increase its personnel.

“We will be asking the Department of Budget and Management for additional plantilla positions. The hospital, at present, employs 1,300 personnel,” Runez said, adding the BGHMC will need about 2,500 personnel after the expansion is done.

The hospital currently operates on an PHP800-million budget and will ask for its increase to PHP1.4 billion, once the 800-bed capacity and additional personnel are in place. –PNA

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