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Protection of medical frontliners’ welfare assured as 104th Malasakit Center opens in Leyte

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The 104th Malasakit Center was launched at the Leyte Provincial Hospital in Palo, Leyte

The country’s 104th Malasakit Center, which is located at the Leyte Provincial Hospital in Palo, Leyte, was launched last Friday, April 30th.

In attendance was Senator and Chair of the Senate Committe on Health, Christopher “Bong” Go, who expressed his sincere gratitude for the invaluable service rendered by the medical community to treat patients and control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mula sa amin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, maraming salamat po sa ating mga frontliners, sa mga doctors, nurses at iba pang health workers, para sa inyong serbisyo at sakripisyo sa panahong ito,” he began.

The LPH is the eight hospital in Eastern Visayas and the third in Leyte to establish its own Malasakit Center, aside from the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City and the Ormoc District Hospital. A fourth center in the province and the 105th nationwide was also launched at the Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital (SCRH) in Palo on the same day.

As reports of infections, illnesses and deaths from around the globe continue to mount, he reassured that government is doing its best to provide medical frontliners, particularly those in COVID-19 hotspots, the protection, support and resources they need so they can carry out their roles in a safe and effective manner.

To enhance the healthcare system’s capacity in Leyte, the Committee on Health approved House Bill No. 6971, which seeks to increase the authorized bed capacity of the SCRH from 25 to 100 beds and rename the said hospital to the Governor Benjamin T. Romualdez General Hospital and Schistosomiasis Center.

The Committee also approved HB 6972, which will increase the bed capacity of the EVRMC from 500 to 1,500 and rename it to Eastern Visayas Medical Center. Go will sponsor the aforementioned bills in plenary once Congress resumes session.

Continuing his speech, Go added that while the government’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 continues to make gains, much still remains to be done amid the challenges in the global vaccine supply chain.

“Huwag kayong mag-alala dahil tuloy-tuloy ang ating pagbabakuna. But to be honest with you, limitado ang bakuna sa ngayon dahil nag-aagawan ang mga iba’t ibang bansa,” he explained, before urging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

“Huwag kayong matakot sa bakuna. Matakot kayo sa COVID-19. Ito ang solusyon natin upang malampasan ang krisis at ang tanging susi para unti-unti na tayong makabalik sa normal nating pamumuhay,” he continued.

The Senator once more stressed the importance of abiding by the necessary health and safety protocols in order to slow down the spread of the virus, which will not only allow medical frontliners to do their jobs but also protect the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

“Makinig tayo sa ating gobyerno. Ang pinaka-importante dito ang disiplina ng bawat Pilipino. Hindi natin kayang labanan itong COVID-19 kung walang disiplina ang bawat tao. Mag-social distancing tayo, magsuot ng mask at face shield at maghugas ng kamay dahil delikado pa ang panahon… para rin hindi bumagsak ang ating healthcare system,” he warned.

To improve access to healthcare services, especially for the poor and vulnerable, Go had authored and sponsored the measure that became Republic Act No. 11463 or the ‘Malasakit Centers Act of 2019’.

The center is a one-stop shop which provides streamlined and convenient access to the medical assistance programs of various government agencies, namely the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Under the law, all hospitals run by the DOH and the Philippine General Hospital are directed to have their own Malasakit Center. Other public hospitals may also establish their own provided they can meet the set of criteria and ensure the sustainability of their operations.

Following the activity, Go’s team distributed meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to 265 hospital staff members and 72 patients. Selected staff members were also given new bicycles for their commuting needs while others received computer tablets for their children’s educational activities.

In a separate distribution, the DSWD provided each beneficiary with financial assistance.

“Huwag kayong magpasalamat sa amin. Kami ang dapat magpasalamat sa inyong lahat dahil binigyan niyo kami ng tyansa na magserbisyo sa inyong lahat. Kami ay mga probinsyano, taga-Mindanao lamang pero binigyan kami ng Panginoon ng pagkakataon na magserbisyo sa ating bayan. Kaya hindi namin sasayangin ang bawat araw at oras na ibinigay sa amin para pagsilbihan ang ating kapwa Pilipino,” ended Go.

Go went on to thank the many individuals who extended their support and contributed to the continuing success of the Malasakit Centers program.

They included those in attendance, such as Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas; Governor Leopoldo Petilla; Vice Governor Carlo Loreto; Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone; An Waray Party List Rep. Florencio Noel; and Provincial Board Members Gina Merilo, Ma. Corazon Remandaban, Emmanuel Gacis and Florante Cayunda Jr., who were also in attendance.

He likewise acknowledged Palo Mayor Frances Petilla, Alangalang Mayor Lovell Yu, Santa Fe Mayor Amparo Monteza, Tolosa Mayor Maria Ofelia Alcantara, Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari, and Acting Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ofelia Absin.

Later that day, the Senator proceeded to the Cirilo Roy Montejo Sports Complex where his team distributed similar aid to hundreds of beneficiaries composed of flood victims. All activities were carried out in batches and in strict observance of the health and safety protocols against COVID-19.

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