Trimming CLMMRH down

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

IN A FEW columns I cited the congestion of the Bacolod based Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital and at one time the lack of efficiency of its personnel. Popularly known as “Provincial Hospital” because it was owned by the province of Occidental Negros until martial law took over its ownership, this medical facility is the first option of most people, particularly those who cannot afford the commercialized, expensive private hospitals. The congestion in this hospital is inhuman but what else can the people do when government cares little of them?

Bacolod Congressman Greg Gasataya must have felt this situation deeply that without fanfare he filed a bill that increased the bed capacity of CLMMRH from its present 400 to 1,000. That is more than double its ability to serve. I know from experience that two to three patients share one bed and take turns to rest their weary, sickly bodies.

Gasataya filed this bill without publicity and we learned of it only when it passed Congress. And even then he did not beat his breast about it.

His move gives hope to many not only in Bacolod where its government prefers a coliseum than a hospital, but for the rest of the province. There is the provincial hospital in Silay City and several district hospitals from San Carlos to Sipalay but most of the masses still prefer CLMMRH because of its facilities and surely, its charges.

But while the public applauds Cong. Gasataya for this concern for the health not only of his constituents who are the majority patients of this hospital, here comes a damper that unless given immediate attention will disrupt the health services in the city and the province.

Reports say that Dr. Julius Drilon, CLMMRH chief, has issued a letter to over 250 job order workers and professionals that their services are considered terminated by the end of this month. It is actually easy to terminate them – just don’t renew their contracts which reports said Drilon did.

Although copies of the letter had circulated, Drilon reportedly refused to comment giving the impression that the report is true. Indeed, if his alleged letter is non-existent he should have denied it categorically. He didn’t. What is that saying about silence? He was even cited to have given his “good luck” wishes to those who will be jobless by the end of June.

We can believe he did not terminate to spite. What puzzles is why he refused to explain his own letter. Because he refused to deny the report, we will assume the information is correct. Perhaps he will eventually come out with a statement.

News report also said that Drilon questioned the purpose of the news report. I think the good doctor is caught in his own web that he forgot that this matter is a grave public concern, he is a civil servant and the departure of so big a number of personnel will have a big impact in the servicing of the patients and the hospital.

The reason for the alleged termination of over 250 hospital workers that includes not just the utility personnel but nurses and physicians is “budgetary constraints”.

If this is the reason, the matter should be raised to the Department of Health. Lives and limbs, not just employment, are at stake here. We assume, however that the matter of personnel had been reported to the DOH when the hospital submitted its annual budget.

Two things quickly come to the public mind: (1) the DOH thought CLMMRH is overstaffed and (2) the Congress really cut down its budget for political or other reasons, like putting pressure on Senator Franklin Drilon.

Suspicions aside, Drilon mentioned that the reason is the implementation of “Joint Circular No. 1 series of 2017 as amended by CSC-COA-DBM No. 1 series of 2018 and without provision for additional budget to carry it out (thus) CLMMRH is constrained to reduce its manpower”.

The implementation is great for the contractual employees as it extends the services of the present job order and contract of service workers in government until 2020. Effective January 1, 2019, the compensation of these workers will be comparable to the daily wage of the same positions in government plus a premium of up to 20 percent which will be paid monthly, in lump sum or in tranches.

Let’s resume tomorrow.