Trimming CLMMRH down – 2

By Modesto P. Sa-onoy

DR. JULIUS DRILON, chief of the Corazon LocsinMontelibano Memorial Regional Hospital has a solid justification for trimming down the hospital personnel by over 250 job order employees. Not only will the compensation for these contractual workers be increased, their tenure is also lengthened; they cannot just be kicked out at will.

Information says that the P1-billion budget of the hospital was scaled down in 2018 to only P350 million. This is a whopping 40% reduction that, considering the purpose and circumstances of this hospital, is unconscionable if not a moral crime. Hospital insiders say the government needs the money for its “Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.”

Didn’t Senator Franklin Drilon come to the rescue when the budget was being considered? Of course we can understand that he has fallen from his powerful perch as Senate President but the budget of a hospital cannot be considered a ball to kick around in a political game. Anyway, what was done is done.

Whether the hospital budget was cut down to increase the budget for infrastructure is true or not, the suspicion feeds on the people’s anger about the priorities of the government – roads and bridges (or coliseum) take priorities to human life. We can swallow the killings in the illegal drugs trade but the life of a sick person being secondary in favor of a road is unacceptable on earth and I believe in heaven as well.

Thus with the new circular imposing higher compensation, Drilon is left without an option but to trim down his expenses and as in private businesses the easiest to cut down are personnel. The most affected are the medical, the auxiliary and the housekeeping departments.

But who should be retained? One insider claims unfairness because there was no uniform basis for their termination since it depended on the criteria set by their respective department heads.

There is a claim that some casual employees were subjected to a performance evaluation while others were not. If so, was the selection for termination based on closeness to the department heads or whoever was influential? Is not this random selection unjust? I think Drilon should release the bases of the selection to obviate suspicion that this “enforcement” of the circular is really an excuse for a purge.

An employee said that there was no performance evaluation last year. This is a departure from the usual (mandated) practice in all offices. It seems therefore that the plan to remove some employees was already on track last year without the personnel knowing about it. They were, a report said, surprised.

In fact, one report said the employees’ salary adjustment that should have been released was kept on hold without any information when or whether it would be released.

Unless the terminations are suspended and reviewed or even discarded, the impact of the loss of 200 personnel by July 1 would be catastrophic. I have observed firsthand the congestion and the workload of the hospital personnel and even wondered why things were allowed to rot.

Imagine then when 250 workers are suddenly removed from the hospital and no replacements are hired. There will be pandemonium. At one time we brought there a patient who was infected with dengue fever. She could not be processed and just told to look for a place to wait because there was nobody who could attend to her and the queue of patients was long. After two hours of waiting, she had to be brought to a private hospital.

The dismissal of the job order workers will mean a bigger workload for those who will be retained. This will also mean longer hours and worse a more stressful work environment. The hospital will then have its employees as patients if not the flight of its professionals elsewhere. The cascading effect will be horrendous.

I can understand the dilemma of Dr. Drilon and he has three weeks to reconsider his decision because the effect will be so terrible it will fall right into his lap. How he can avert this disaster nobody knows but he must act or as the novelist said, he “will reap the whirlwind.”

Of course we can see some hope in the expansion of the hospital as mandated by the law authored by Cong. Greg Gasataya but that will take time. The crisis is now.