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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Northern Mindanao is building new hospitals to address the shortage of beds and health workers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to prepare for future emergencies, improve the bed-to-patient ratio, and enhance access to healthcare services.
Mylah Faye Cariño, director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Northern Mindanao, said on Wednesday, June 21, that the 600-bed Saint Francis Hospital has been completed and is now operational along Masterson Avenue in uptown Cagayan de Oro.
She said the city government has also finished the construction of a hospital in Barangay Lumbia.
In Gingoog City, local business leader Arsenio Sebastian said a business group has initiated the construction of a 100-bed hospital, which will complement a kidney center being planned by the local government.
Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte informed that a COVID-19 testing center in Tubod town has been converted into a facility exclusively for infectious diseases.
Their objective is to increase the ratio of hospital bed capacity to one bed per 1,000 patients by 2028. Currently, the region has a bed-to-patient ratio of one bed for every 2,328 patients.
Region X comprises nine cities: Cagayan de Oro, El Salvador, Gingoog, Iligan, Malaybalay, Oroquieta, Ozamiz, Tangub, and Valencia. It also includes five provinces, namely Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental.
“Many of these hospitals are currently funded by private businesses, but the government plans to increase its investments,” said Cariño.
NEDA-X and the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Council (RDC) presented these developments during the launch of the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Plan 2023-2028 on Wednesday.
Ralph Paguio, vice president of Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco) and business sector representative to RDC-X, said the government should not be caught unprepared again when hospitals were overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients since 2020.
Paguio cited a distressing incident where a friend infected with COVID-19 died unattended inside his car because hospitals were already full.
Paguio said the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Region X’s main facility for COVID-19 cases, became overcrowded as smaller hospitals from other cities and provinces sent most of their COVID-19-infected patients during the pandemic.
Cagayan de Oro, the regional capital of Northern Mindanao, recorded 25,945 COVID-19 cases and 941 deaths from March 2020 to July 7, 2022, during the most critical period of the pandemic. – Rappler.com