Random Thoughts

IN AID OF LEGISLATION –  The Question Hour of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last week on the reported exorbitant bills charged by doctors at the Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital (DDVMH) to its patients was an eye opener.

Yes, it means people have a voice through their board members who were able and willing to fight for them. And also, there are no suggested prices in hospitals for items sold and doctors’ fees.

Board Member Raul Sison took the cudgels for an injured constituent who cried foul for the very huge amount he was made to pay after his surgical operation on an injured right wrist from a tari of a fighting cock.  He was charged a whopping P176,000, (P137,900 was for doctors’ fees), PhilHealth deductions already made, for a 22-hour stay in the hospital for that operation.

Villaflor Hospital’s lawyer, Marian Ivy Reyes-Fajardo from Metro Manila, articulated laws governing hospitals. Masyadong magaling at nag research si Atty. pero hindi masyadong nagustuhan ng ilang board members ang paliwanang niya.

There were some emotions hurt in the process. Apologies were said by both camps. Then when the dust has settled, all’s well that ends well, we were told.

Of course, those who wondered why the hospital bill was so big would have been better understood if the doctors who attended to the patient had explained the procedure they did.

So, some issues remain unanswered about the doctors at the Villaflor Hospital. Sayang naman.

On Dec. 11, another round of Question Hour is scheduled. This time, the inquiry will focus on two doctors mentioned in the first round of DDVMH probe.

Drs. Karlo Orduña and Emelito Retumalta, anesthesiologist and surgeon respectively, are expected to be in the hot seat since they failed to attend the Question Hour last week due to prior commitments. It appeared that the two doctors are regularly employed at the government hospital and at the same time working for the Villaflor Hospital, thus further probe was sought. (I did not hear the name of another doctor, Vivencio Jose Villaflor III, who was one of the three doctors who attended to the patient, to be summoned anew. Perhaps the provincial board was already satisfied with the answers of Atty. Fajardo).

But the center of the talk among media colleagues is Dr. Orduña. He perhaps will bear the heavier brunt owing to the family’s political affiliations. His family strongly supported the opponent of the incumbent leadership in Pangasinan. Pero kasalanan ba nya na maging anak sya ng tatay nya at pamangkin siya ng uncle niyang dating mayor na lumaban sa paniniwala nila ay prinsipyo nila?

But Doc Karlo’s main headache is about his plantilla position as medical specialist assigned in Eastern Pangasinan District Hospital in Tayug. My source said Dr. Retumalta is in the same boat, who has a plantilla position, in another government hospital.

Pero sila lang ba ang nasa ganitong sitwasyon?

Let’s face it. Who among our government doctors are not doing their practice in private hospitals in their spare time? If there are, perhaps only very few. I’m sure they are observing the Civil Service guidelines on their employment in government hospitals.

If someone needs to be attended to by a government doctor in a private hospital, say a matter between life and death, will he still think about Civil Service rules? Will the government doctor be expected to say “Sorry po, baka magalit ang superior ko at tanggalin ako sa serbisyo. Bawal sa amin kasi mag-work sa private hospital?

I know of some doctors who are also teaching in medical schools after office hours. Di ba pareho din lang ito? If they do not, and cannot, not share their knowledge and expertise to medical students, there will be no more medical schools in Pangasinan or elsewhere in the country.

On Dec. 11, chiefs of hospitals under the provincial government are expected to submit names of their doctors who are also working in private companies, be it in hospital or school.

Maganda rin yang Question Hour in aid of legislation, our honorable members of the board can craft measures for the benefit of our government doctors. Note na hindi nila basta-basta matataasan ang doctors’ salaries dahil may salary grade na sinunod sa gobyerno, but perhaps mabibigyan ang government doctors ng ibang financial incentives so they can devote their full time helping indigent patients.

It should remain in aid of legislation, not character assassination or political persecution. Yan ang da best na magiging bunga ng isyu na ito kung yan ang mangyayari sa susunod na Question Hour. Otherwise, matatakot ang mga iimbitahan.Eva Visperas


DECORATING WITH A CHANGE —  A few people say there is a whale of difference between the Christmas celebrated during  the past city administration of then Mayor Benjamin Lim and  the Christmas being celebrated  by the present administration of Mayor Belen Fernandez.

Unfortunate, but these few people who are obviously die hard Lim supporters dwell only on the colors of Christmas and only in two parts of the city–the Quintos and Magsaysay bridges– which they said were more vibrant and nicer to look at during the administration of Lim. In contrast, they say today’s Christmas lights and colors are dull and subdued.

These people, including a few media rah-rah boys of the past city administration, seem to think that the presentation of Christmas decorations is the best gauge of how well a public official is performing. That is wrong.

But lo and behold. It was found out that the Lim administration was spending P2.5 million only for the Christmas decors for the Quintos and Magsaysay bridges.

That was certainly too much by any standard for decorations and in only two places in the city and yet Lim was not even censured by the Commission on Audit whose official at that time was “too friendly” for a reason.

And because of his extravagance, especially during Christmas, the Lim administration incurred an overdraft of some P37 million, we were informed.

Admittedly, Christmas decorations in these two landmark bridges were subdued, some say dull, but some of the savings from the decors were given as bonuses to the city employees making them happier than ever.

The huge savings of the Fernandez administration allowed for the payment of 14th month pay to city hall workers, something the previous city administrations failed to do,

But this Christmas, both bridges leading to downtown Dagupan are adorned ornately and more colorful as in the old but with a difference – the city government did not spend a single centavo for these.

The costs of the decorations were bankrolled by the United Architects Association-Pangasinan chapter adopting a motif depicting the progress of Dagupan across the years. – Leonardo Micua

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