Dialysis center contract to be renewed, subject to SP review
posted 28-Aug-2019  ·  
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The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has granted provisional authority to Acting Governor Shirley Abundo to sign a new contract with the operator of the dialysis center at the Juan M. Alberto Memorial District Hospital.

This development came after the old contract expired without being renewed, prompting KEB Health & Wellness Systems to cut back its operation to just two dialysis machines instead of the original five when it started in July 2012.

With less than half of the machines available, the existing 14 patients going to the clinic have found it difficult to schedule dialysis sessions that last for four hours. The clinic can only accept a maximum of 10 patients daily.

Last July 16, 2019, Acting Governor Shirley Abundo forwarded the contract for the operation of the hemodialysis unit at JMAMDH under the public-private partnership program, with P2 million proposed to be set aside as seed capital for the venture.

Due to the urgency of the situation, the provincial board decided to tackle the matter during its 7th Regular Session in Metro Manila, specifically at the House of Representatives where they convened at the office of the partylist representatives upon the invitation of TGP Rep. Jose Teves Jr.

Acting Vice Gov. Templonuevo and Committee on Health chair PBM Santos Zafe reportedly urged their colleagues, who were all present save for the Sangguniang Kabataan federation president, to approve the provisional authority of the acting governor so that KEB would continue to operate all its machines pending the review of the agreement.

The new agreement reportedly has some amendments, including the hiring of nurses by KEB instead of the hospital. A member of the board also said that the original contract was disadvantageous on the part of the provincial government.

Templonuevo told the Tribune last Friday that the body made the decision considering that some of the clinic’s patients would be forced to undergo dialysis either in the Bicol mainland or in Metro Manila, which would mean additional financial burden on their families.

It may be recalled that the dialysis center at JMAMDH was inaugurated on July 13, 2012, with the clinic opening its doors to dialysis patients twelve days later.

Each session cost around P2,000, with PhilHealth members essentially paying nothing especially if they also secured financial assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). PhilHealth shoulders 45 treatments per year for members who suffer from kidney ailment while PCSO grants P10,000 monthly assistance for patients who apply for help.

The center’s operation comes just six months after KEB sent an unsolicited proposal to the capitol concerning the management and operation of a hemodialysis facility. KEB was encouraged by Alejo Tatel, vice president and executive director of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation, to establish the center in Catanduanes. Tatel’s brother, the late Virac businessman Leon Tatel, underwent dialysis for three years before his untimely demise.

Tatel told the Tribune then that setting up a stand-alone private dialysis center would cost somewhere between P10 to P12 million as each hemodialysis machine costs a million pesos each.

It is said that dialysis patients used to spend anywhere from P25,000 to P40,000 a month for the treatments in the mainland, as each cost P4,000 excluding the transportation and lodging costs. Majority undergo twice-weekly dialysis, which is needed to cleanse the kidneys of harmful wastes, extra salt and water when the organs have failed. A better alternative to regular dialysis treatments is kidney transplant but this is beyond the reach of many patients as each transplant costs a minimum of P1.5 million.

Hypertension and diabetes, along with a sedentary lifestyle, are the top causes of kidney failure. The disease can be prevented by having a healthy lifestyle, including a low fat, low salt and high fiber diet, avoiding vices such as smoking, and having regular exercise.

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