MALASAKIT CENTER. Officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Department of Health (DOH), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), with Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, formally open the 92nd “Malasakit Center” at the Benguet General Hospital on Friday (Nov.20, 2020). Go said the center’s funds will not only come from the four agencies but also the PHP3 million monthly allocation from President Rodrigo Duterte and the PHP10 million medical assistance from his office. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Sonny Labey from Luna Apayao was locked down here since the pandemic. He could not go back home so he stays with a cousin in law. He works twice a week at the Trading Post as an “extra” receiving PHP250 a day. He has one child and his wife Girlie just gave birth.
He is one of the target beneficiaries of the “Malasakit Center” that opened in Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) on Friday.
Sonny said he does not know where to get the money to pay the bills of his wife who is confined at the hospital for two days now after giving birth to their second child. His parents, he said, have no money to help them.
“Ang target ng Malasakit Center ay zero billing, magtutulung-tulong ang apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno para mabayaran ang hospital bill. Kung kukulangin, pwedeng kunin sa allocation ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte or sa financial assistance na galing sa opisina ko bilang Senador (The target of the Malasakit Center is zero billing where the four government agencies will help each other pay the hospital bill. If their fund is not sufficient, the money allotted by President Duterte or the financial assistance from my office as a senator can be accessed to complete the amount needed),” Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said in a virtual message during the opening of the center.
Go said the center brings together in an area at the hospital the four government agencies — Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) that people go to for assistance in paying their hospital bills.
“Noon, nauubos ang oras, ang pera sa pamasahe, magpaikot-ikot sa PCSO, DSWD, DOH at PhilHealth para manghingi ng pambayad sa hospital. Ngayon, inilagay na natin sila sa ospital, sa isang kwarto, sa Malasakit Center (before people consume so much time going around PCSO, DSWD, DOH, and PhilHealth to ask for help so that we can pay our hospital bills, now we have placed them all in the hospital, in one room, in the Malasakit Center),” the senator said.
He said the goal of the center is “zero billing” for the indigent patient so that they will no longer worry about where to look for money to pay the entire hospital bill in a DOH-run medical facility or provincial hospital.
Go said President Rodrigo Duterte has allotted PHP3 million monthly for the Malasakit Center which can be replenished when exhausted.
As a senator, he also gave PHP10 million financial assistance to the center.
The PCSO is allotting PHP100,000 daily allocation to the hospital. PhilHealth covers a portion of the hospital bill while DSWD also has a medical assistance program under the “individuals in crisis” assistance program aside from the DOH assistance that can be accessed.
In Ilocano, Sonny said, “I am very thankful because we don’t have a single centavo when we went to the hospital. Thank you very much sir (Go) for your help. I hope that you will not get tired of helping people like us.”
More aid to poor patients
Dr. Meliarazon Dulay, OIC chief of BeGH, said the hospital does not only cater to Benguet people but also from other parts of the region.
She said especially with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the hospital, an economic enterprise of the provincial government of Benguet, is having a difficult time subsidizing patients.
She said all Covid-positive patients are zero billing and their funds are now depleted.
Dulay said the opening of the Malasakit Center will not only help the patients but also the hospital as medical assistance from the center forms part of the income of the hospital which they can also return to patients in the form of services.
She also thanked President Duterte and Go for conceptualizing the “malasakit center” which is a one-stop-shop to access the services of the four agencies.
“Malaking tulong ito sa ating mga kababayan sa Benguet especially the vulnerable at walang kakayahang magbayad para sa kanilang hospitalization (This is a big help for our townmates in Benguet, especially the vulnerable who cannot pay for their hospitalization).”
“Hindi na matatakot mag punta sa hospital ang ating mga kababayan na magpagamot, magpa hospital dahil may malasakit center ng makakatulong (Our townmates will not be afraid anymore to seek medical help, go to the hospital because there is now the malasakit center that can help),” Dulay said.
Governor Melchor Diclas, a medical doctor by profession, on the sidelines of the program, said there are two classifications of patients — one is a patient who cannot pay his hospital bills and another is a patient who can afford to pay in full his hospital bills.
He said his office as well as that of Congressman Eric Yap frequently receives requests for assistance to pay hospital bills, which they also act on.
He said Benguet residents who need medical assistance will benefit the most with the opening of the Malasakit Center. (PNA)