Where did the medical supplies of VSMMC go?
Last week I received information about the scarcity of medicines in the pharmacy of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
I immediately dismissed the report as I was not surprised by the statement.
I silently told myself, when did a government hospital had an abundant supply of medicines?
Yesterday I heard another account about the supply of medicines of VSMMC and what I thought was trivial is actually serious.
The lack of medicines had been affecting poor patients especially emergency cases brought to the hospital from the various towns of the province.
A hospital insider who I accidentally bumped into said there is a very limited supply of medicine and other medical stocks because the suppliers refused to replenish the inventory due to the failure of the hospital administration to pay for their previous deliveries.
What I thought initially was that the problem is only confined to the Department of Health Pharmacy (DOH) located at the hospital compound that sells cheap but quality generic drugs that have become a favorite go-to place for poor patients taking maintenance medicine.
I didn’t expect that the shortage also includes the hospital supply depot itself that directly dispenses medical supplies like dextrose and medical oxygen to patients that need immediate medical attention.
My source said the hospital ran out of medical oxygen twice because the supplier was not paid for previous deliveries due to the delay in the processing of payment in the hospital’s accounting department.
If not for the grumbling of some medical practitioners of the hospital who could not anymore bear the scenario of patients being told to buy their own medicine because the hospital’s main pharmacy had no medicines, the hospital could not have fast tracked the processing of payment for the supplier of dextrose.
The doctors reportedly pressured the hospital administrator to pay a pharmaceutical firm that supplies dextrose to the hospital so that at least they could administer intravenous fluids to patients brought to them.
The same hospital worker told me that the hospital owes suppliers about P50 million and this includes the delivery made last year.
What was surprising was that there was an allocation in the hospital budget for fiscal year 2016-2017.
The shortage of medical supplies in VSMMC affected the operation of the newly inaugurated Malasakit Center of President Rodrigo R. Duterte because every time the center refers patients to the hospital, they could not get adequate medical attention.
It is too early to say that graft could have played a role in this current crisis faced by the hospital, but the current hospital administration is reportedly being investigated for a previous unaccounted income of the hospital pharmacy.
I hope that what happened to VSMMC is just a product of government bureaucracy and that funds for payment of supplies are just delayed due to the long processing of requests and not because the funds went to someone’s pocket.
Hospital administrators could not just let this happen at the expense of poor patients who may die due to the unavailability of certain medicines and supplies.
If this report is true, we have a case of a hospital that does not have medicine for its patients.
If this is the case the government has consistently failed the poor people that have no other recourse than to rely on free government service.
This situation is unacceptable under the Duterte administration that vowed to prioritize the poor and even resorted to the establishment of Malasakit Center in order to bring government services to the poor Cebuanos.
I hope that Duterte’s henchmen in the Visayas would look into this matter and make people own up to their responsibility for making the poor residents of Cebu suffer some more.
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