MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and representatives from private hospitals have reached a compromise that will give healthcare facilities a maximum of 3 years to comply with the government’s hospital reclassification scheme.
In a press briefing, Health Secretary Enrique T Ona told reporters the agreement allows hospitals to beef up their facilities and comply with the DOH’s new rules on hospital classification based on Administrative Order No. 2012-0012.
“The AO will apply immediately to new hospitals. For those that are already existing, especially those without operating rooms, they will be given a maximum of 3 years, but I’m sure most of them will be able to do it in a year or a year and a half,” Ona said.
Ona said half of the estimated Level 1 hospitals under the old ruling need to spend some P10 to P15 million to put up a decent operating room. This would put them under Level 1 category in the new classification.
He said that as of 2011, there are a total of 733 government hospitals and 1,088 private hospitals. Presently classified as Level 1 are 771 facilities composed of 372 public hospitals and 399 private hospitals.
The health secretary said he’s confident that after 3 years or earlier, more than half of these Level 1 hospitals would be able to retain their classifications under the new rules.
Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) President Rustico Jimenez said they support the DOH’s move. However, he said the DOH must help in fast-tracking PhilHealth payments, which are often delayed, and reaching out to other agencies on matters that currently hound hospitals.
Jimenez said one of these agencies is the Department on Environment and Natural Resources. It has imposed a fine of P200,000 per day for improper hospital waste management, which, Jimenez said, is difficult for some hospitals that don’t own a waste facility.
“As I said, we are agreeable to those terms because before, our request to Secretary Ona was that only new hospitals [ought to] be covered by the AO. If you read the AO, there was no mention of 3 years. After that, Secretary Ona released the 3 years so I think we are agreeable to that,” Jimenez said.
He also expressed the hope that DOH help the PHAP and the Philippine Hospital Association (PHA) stay as members of the board of PhilHealth. Some lawmakers are pushing for the removal of the two organizations from the board of PhilHealth on grounds that their membership creates a conflict-of-interest situation.
Under the new DOH reclassification order, Level 1 hospitals should have the following facilities:
- surgery room
- surgical and maternity facilities
- dental clinics
- secondary clinical laboratory
- blood station
- first level X-ray
- a pharmacy
Level 2 hospitals require additional departmentalized clinical services including:
- a respiratory unit
- high pregnancy risk unit
- second level X-ray with mobile unit
Level 3 hospitals should have:
- DOH-accredited teaching and training on 4 major clinical services, ambulatory surgical and dialysis clinics
- a blood bank
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