VSMMC commits to give LGUs technical support

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VICENTE Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) has committed to continuously provide technical support to local government unit (LGU) counterparts in the interest of healthcare.

This was what VSMMC chief Gerardo Aquino Jr., said in a statement released to SunStar Cebu on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, or two weeks after he identified the top 10 referring hospitals to VSMMC from January to June 30 this year.

A total of 6,419 patients were referred from hospitals in Cebu Province to VSMMC during the time period.

In a meeting that Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia held with the mayors, representatives of the Department of Health (DOH), municipal and city health officers, and representatives of the district and provincial hospitals at the Capitol Social Hall last Aug. 24, Aquino also identified the top 10 referred cases from hospitals in Cebu: fracture, pneumonia, chronic kidney disease, anemia, cardiovascular disease, appendicitis, sepsis/septic shock, kidney diseases (nephrotic syndrome, urinary tract infection, lithiasis), preterm/prematurity, and tuberculosis (pulmonary/extrapulmonary).

The hospitals in the list under Cebu Province earned the ire of Garcia for referring patients to the VSMMC even if they were capable of treating such patients themselves.

These are the provincial hospitals in Danao City, which ranked fourth on the list, with 649 referrals; Carcar City, seventh, 336 referrals; Bogo City, eighth with 320 referrals; and Balamban, tenth with 239 referrals.

Garcia said they will investigate who were the doctors on duty and those who referred the patients to the VSMMC, whose diseases were “manageable” at the provincial level based on the VSMMC’s data.

Aquino, however, in his statement, did not mention whether these provincial hospitals were capable of handling these kinds of cases.

Instead, the VSMMC chief committed to provide technical support to the LGU counterparts as expected of them by the DOH as an apex or end-referral hospital.

These would include training of physicians under the Practiced-Based Residency Training Program, the deployment of their Residency Training Program-graduated physicians to the various LGU facilities, and the provision of various technical training and upskilling as deemed necessary at the request of interested health facilities.

Olive Dandan, Cebu Provincial Hospital-Balamban chief of hospital, earlier said they are investigating the referral of patients from the hospital to the VSMMC over the six-month period, stressing that the doctors were already informed about it.

Based on VSMMC’s data, Balamban had about 131 referred patients and was among the top 10 cases identified by Aquino.

When asked whether such cases really needed tertiary care, Dandan said there was indeed a need for referrals should patients have complications and if there is no medical specialist on duty.

DOH 7 Chief Pathologist Mary Jean Loreche, who also serves as health consultant of the Cebu Provincial Government, in a separate interview, said she is yet to determine whether the four provincial hospitals were capable of handling the top 10 most referred cases to the VSMMC.

“I haven’t started my assessment as yet. Will start in the second week of September,” said Loreche.

She said the four provincial hospitals were classified as Level 1 hospitals but up for upgrading to Level 2.

A Level 1 category hospital is allowed to offer only consulting specialists in, but not limited to medicine, pediatrics, ob-gyne, surgery, emergency and outpatient services, isolation facilities, and surgical or maternity facilities.

On the other hand, a Level 2 hospital can do all the functions of the preceding level and offer departmentalized clinical services, respiratory unit, general intensive care unit (ICU), high-risk pregnancy unit, newborn ICU, and dental clinic services as well.

While they have been recently granted 1,500 bed capacity, Aquino said their current license and manpower complement are still good for 600 beds.

But Aquino said they are actively filling up recently granted additional plantilla positions, particularly for various healthcare professions.

“Having considered the aforementioned, we are just like our peers and counterparts—we are also managing our present resources against the mandate to deliver quality healthcare effectively. But as the apex hospital, we just cannot make excuses to falter,” said Aquino.

“We recognize that there are a lot of things that we also need to work on as a medical center and we commit to continually improve our services and processes to become more relevant and responsive to the HCPNs (Healthcare Provider Networks) we are in,” he added.

The others in the top list of referring hospitals were DOH 711 hotline, firs

t on the list, 2,294 referrals; Lapu-Lapu City Hospital, second, 815 referrals; Eversley Childs Sanitarium and General Hospital, third, 732 referrals; Cebu South Medical Center (the former Talisay District Hospital), fifth, 417 referrals; Mandaue City Hospital, sixth, 364 referrals; and Cebu City Medical Center, ninth, 253 referrals.