GROUNDBREAKING. Iloilo City breaks ground for its proposed 200-bed capacity hospital on Friday (Sept. 9, 2022). The health facility will initially start with 70 beds and is expected to be operational after its completion in two years. (Photo courtesy of Arnold Almacen/City Mayor’s Office)

ILOILO CITY – The local government in this city on Friday broke the ground for its proposed PHP1.2 billion 200-bed hospital expected to respond to the gap in Iloilo's bed capacity.

The construction of the Level-2 Iloilo City Hospital and Medical Arts Building is authorized under Republic Act 11891 with the national government providing PHP500 million for the acquisition of equipment but will be under the direct supervision and control of the local government.

The building will stand on approximately 7,135 square meters in Barangay San Pedro, Molo and construction is expected to be completed in two years.

Former senator Franklin Drilon who authored the law, during the groundbreaking ceremony, urged Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to amend the 2023 budget of the Department of Health to add PHP250 million intended for the city hospital and the same amount in 2024.

“That will satisfy the PHP500 million that we place as a funding under the law, which created the Iloilo City Hospital,” he said.

The local government, meantime, has obtained a PHP500 million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines for the construction.

Zubiri has earlier committed PHP200 million for the hospital’s multipurpose or medical arts building.

“I was asked by the big man of the Senate, we will make it happen, PHP250 million. I will continue my support to all the Ilonggos here in Region 6, particularly Iloilo City,” Zubiri said during the ceremony.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, in a press conference before the groundbreaking, said they will just start with 70 beds complete with diagnostics and will gradually increase once the personnel component, such as doctors and nurses, is there.

“Para ini sa aton indigent Ilonggos. Libre ni tanan sa mga pigado ta. (This is for our indigents. It will be free for all indigents). They go through a process. Once they have a certificate of indigency tinguhaan ta gid nga sa hospital ta libre man parehas sa aton dialysis (Once they have certificate of indigency we will try to have it free in the hospital like our dialysis),” he said.

The project will have two towers -- a four-story main building and a five-story nursing unit structure.

Drilon said that the hospital project is “critical” because the health pandemic has “exposed the inadequacies of the health system”.

The desired ratio based on the World Health Organization (WHO) is three beds for every 1,000 population.

The city and province of Iloilo have 3,100 total bed capacity; 2, 287 in the city and 813 from the province for the over 2.5 million population.

There is a gap of roughly 4,500 beds to meet the desired capacity of more or less 7,500 beds. (PNA)