February 29, 2024

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Sonny Labey from Luna, Apayao was locked down here since the pandemic. He could not go back home so he stays with a cousin in-law. He works twice a week at the Trading Post as an “extra” receiving P250 a day. His wife Girlie just gave birth and they now have two children.

Labey is one of the target beneficiaries of the Malasakit Center that opened in Benguet General Hospital on Nov. 20.

Sonny said he did not know where to get the money to pay the bills of his wife who was confined at the hospital for two days after giving birth. His parents, he said, have no money to help them.

“The target of the Malasakit Center is zero billing where four government agencies will help each other pay the hospital bill. If their fund is not sufficient, the money allotted by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte or the financial assistance from my office as a senator can be accessed to complete the amount needed,” Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said in a virtual message during the opening of the center.

Go said the center brings together in an area at the hospital the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and the PhilHealth where people go for assistance in paying their hospital bills.

“Before, people consumed so much time going to PCSO, DSWD, DOH, and PhilHealth to ask for help to pay their hospital bills, now we have placed them all in the hospital, in one room, in the Malasakit Center,” the senator said. 

He said the goal of the center is zero billing for indigent patients so that they will no longer worry where to look for money to pay the entire hospital bill in a DOH-run medical facility or provincial hospital.

Go said Pres. Duterte has allotted P3 million monthly for the Malasakit Center, which can be replenished when exhausted.

He also gave P10M financial assistance to the center.

The PCSO is allotting P100,000 daily to the hospital. PhilHealth covers a portion of the hospital bill while DSWD also has a medical assistance program under the Individuals in Crisis assistance program aside from the DOH assistance that can be accessed.

“I am very thankful because we don’t have a single centavo when we went to the hospital. Thank you very much sir Go for your help. I hope that you will not get tired of helping people like us,” Sonny said.

Dr. Meliarazon Dulay, BeGH OIC chief, said the opening of the Malasakit Center will not only help the patients but also the hospital as medical assistance from the center forms part of the income of the hospital which they can also return to patients in the form of services.

“This is a big help for our townmates in Benguet, especially the vulnerable who cannot pay for their hospitalization.”

Gov. Melchor Diclas, a medical doctor by profession, said his office and that of Legislative Caretaker, Rep. Eric Yap of ACT-CIS, frequently receive requests for assistance to pay hospital bills, which they also act on.

He said Benguet residents who need medical assistance will benefit the most with the opening of the Malasakit Center. – PNA