Friday, June 5, 2009

Hospital Mess

If there is a public institution in Lianga that I truly feel sentimental about it is the Lianga District Hospital. Much of my adult life in this town has been intertwined and caught up in the saga of this health institution that has been serving the health care needs of the town and the surrounding communities for more than two decades.

From the time it was first created in the 1970's as the Lianga National Emergency Hospital until it became the LDH in the 1980's, my father, the late Dr. Jose Y. Otagan, was the hospital's driving force. By dint of hard work, creative resourcefulness and plain and simple, pigheaded determination, he managed to nurse the hospital from its humble beginnings to its status today as a primary health facility on the front lines of the government's health care system in this part of the country.

When he retired passed away in 1996, my father left behind a hospital known for the quality and compassion of its medical care. It drew patients even far beyond its catchment area and despite the fact that it was only, at that time, designed and budgeted only as a 25 bed capacity hospital, it was common for it to handle, on an average day, more than twice that patient load, a fact that always amazed outsiders and visiting government health personnel.

That is why I am specially saddened by the news that I recently received regarding a crisis developing among the medical staff and employees of the LDH.

It seems that some medical doctors on the hospital staff are set to file legal cases against Dr. Dionisio Tayko, the current Chief of Hospital, for fiscal irregularities he had allegedly committed during his time as hospital head. Tayko is accused of withholding and illegally using funds that were supposedly to be distributed to the medical staff as their share of the professional fees entitled to government doctors from the government's Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

Additional reports have surfaced that the alleged Philhealth anomaly may be only the tip of an emerging mess of fiscal irregularities. I have heard that some hospital personnel, Tayko himself included, have also been accused of the flagrant non-issuance of official receipts for payments made by patients for medical services rendered by the hospital. The unrecorded and unreported hospital income have supposedly been siphoned off by Tayko and other unnamed accomplices.

I have also been informed that these reported anomalies as well as many other unspecified financial irregularities have been the subject of investigations in the past by personnel from the provincial government but no formal findings have been released nor were formal charges filed against guilty parties. Political pressure from unnamed high government officials have been cited for the lack of a final resolution of what appears to be a long running problem that has been adversely affecting the morale of hospital employees and the quality of the health care they have been able to provide.

The financial shenanigans mentioned above will soon, however, be the subject of court cases and additional government investigations. It is my hope that if they have indeed basis in truth then the guilty parties must be made the suffer the full weight and punishment of the law. There is nothing more distasteful than criminals who make dirty money at the expense of the misery of others especially those who belong to the poor and disadvantaged of our society.

The provincial government of Surigao del Sur under Gov. Vicente Pimente, Jr. who has direct authority over the operations of the province's district hospitals better get itself involved in the investigation and resolution of the crisis at the Lianga District Hospital. Much has been said recently about the so called "politicalization" of the health and hospital service in the province and how it has damaged the government's efforts in the field of public health.

This is the chance for the governor to prove his critics wrong and set an example by conducting a fair, full, transparent and impartial inquiry into the LDH matter and following through by punishing those who deserved to the punished. Otherwise, nothing good will come out of the ongoing furor at the local hospital and then much of my father's legacy and the legacies of the many other selfless individuals through the years who have made the Lianga District Hospital what it is today will be tragically and irreparably tarnished forever.


  1. Benjie,
    To me this is very sad news. Just a few days ago I talked to Jun L. about any needs the hospital had in the way of equipment. Our company, non-existant as it may seem sometimes, is planning to donate some sort of equipment to the hospital in the near future and I want to know what would be the greatest needs. It's sad to hear that higher officials have taken funds that do not belong to them for their own use. I believe this is a trend in high ranking officials in several of the govenment agencies here in the Philippines and I'm not really sure where or how it started. SOP is the word that is used most often, and I've come to despise that word. It's a sad state when officials take extra money from customers just to perform their jobs. I will be watching the ongoing mess at the hospital very carefully over the next few months now, thanks to your article.
    Mark and Merejen

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