MANILA - The local government of Pasig on Thursday has signed a deal with a private health care provider to open one of the Philippines' largest dialysis centers under a public-private partnership agreement.
Under Pasig's 15-year joint venture agreement with Premier 101 Healthcare Management, Inc., the local government shouldered the construction of the P54-million facility, while the private company will "take charge of its "maintenance, supply, operation, and management" of the 3-storey building.
"Noong 2019, mayroon na pong istruktura ito. Wala pang laman... Unang plano ay para maging isang drug rehabilitation center," Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto said during the signing ceremony.
(This structure has been here since 2019. It was empty... The initial plan was to put up a drug rehabilitation center.)
"Maganda naman po sana kaso noong pinag-aralan namin, 'yung mga rehab center sa ibang lugar, mayroon pang espasyo... so financially, practically, it didn't make sense for Pasig to establish its own rehab center," he said.
(That's a good idea but when we studied it, rehab centers in other areas still have a lot of space... so financially, practically, it didn't make sense for Pasig to establish its own rehab center.)
Pasig decided to convert the facility into a dialysis center after confirming that about 2 percent of the Philippines' entire population suffer from kidney diseases, the mayor said.
The development will increase Pasig's dialysis capacity of 3 times, he said.
Seventy dialysis machines and beds will be installed on the ground floor, while 9 more units will be placed on the second floor for patients with COVID-19, hepatitis, HIV and other communicable diseases.
The third floor will be a multi-purpose area for doctors, nurses and other staff members.
The cost of the treatment will be charged either to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), said Philip Lim, chief operating officer of Premier 101 Healthcare.
"We guarantee that we can deliver... We've been doing dialysis centers since 2018 or 2019," he told reporters in a chance interview, noting that their company is also operating other dialysis facilities in Valenzuela and Parañaque.
Premier 101 infused an initial capital of P90 million for the purchase of machines and 6-months worth of supplies, Lim said.
"Maximum of 3 months, operational na," he said.
"We're moving the dialysis machines but we need to water test and wait for the permit from the Department of Health," he said.
Return of investment is expected in about a decade, the COO said.
"It's a long program... 8 to 10 years, you're happy with it," he said, noting that they submitted an unsolicited proposal for the deal.
Pasig residents who wish to avail of the free dialysis treatment will only have to register through a mechanism that has yet to be determined and present an ID with a Pasig address, Lim said.
Basic requirements from PhilHealth such as additional identification cards may also be asked, he said.
Sotto said dialysis patients from Cainta will be given second priority next to Pasigueños as the facility was built on Cainta property which was near its border with Pasig.
"Ito pong mga nakikita natin sa ating lungsod ngayon... nasa Phase 1 pa lang tayo ng mga pagbabagong pinapakilala natin," Sotto said.
(The things we see in our city now are just part of the firts phase of changes we are introducing.)
"Phase 2 natin, paano natin gagamitn ng buong buo 'yung mga natitipid natin? Paano natin ibabalik ng tama... base sa totoong pangangailangan ng mga Pasigueño?" he said.
Phase 2 will be about how should we fully utilize our savings? How can we return it correctly based on the real needs of Pasigueños?)
In 2021, Pasig allocated a quarter of its P12.39 billion budget for health care, but only utilized P1.86 billion or 58.32% of the P3.20 billion health services fund.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is still the primary challenge in the implementation of the programs, projects and activities for 2021," according to the City's 2021 accomplishment report.
"There were also decreased provision of physical health services due to quarantine restrictions," it read.
In an earlier interview with ABS-CBN News, Sotto admitted that improving the local government's absorptive capacity has been a challenge.
"Of course, it's not right for government to keep saving a lot of money," the mayor said.
"Dapat kung ano yung natitipid namin sa korapsyon, ibalik naman namin sa susunod sa taongbayan," he said.
(What we saved from fighting corruption, we have to give back to the public.)
Pasig City's new programs to spur government spending "will really kick in 2023, 2024," Sotto said.
"Doon na makikita talaga 'yung malalaking projects na talagang binabalik na natin sa tao yung pera nila," he said.
(That's when you'll see the big projects, the ones where we really give back to the people the taxes they pay.)
"Hindi lang unti-unti, baka magulat na lang."
(It won't come in trickles, it might come as a surprise.)