The Commission on Audit (COA) reported that the cost of hospital equipment left unused in San Pablo City General Hospital had gone up 187 percent, or from P11.13 million in 2011 to P31.96 million in 2012.
Among the valuables that have “never been used since [their]delivery” were a P3.5-million ventilator, a P3.1-million defibrillator, a P3.6-million Purittan Bennett ventilation and a P2.4-million incubator.
A P2.26-million anesthesia machine inside the major operating room has not been used “since there is no functioning operating room.”
The priciest is a P4.62-million digital ultrasound diagnostic imaging system, which was only delivered in 2013 and was untouched at the time of inspection.
In addition, inspection of the building found that the 40 private rooms or suites were not yet used or occupied together with one operating room, delivery room and recovery room.
One operating room was being used as a temporary delivery room for normal delivery.
A hospital source disclosed that when it was granted a license to operate in March 2010, it was only a Level 1 hospital with clinical laboratory, pharmacy and diagnostic x-ray services.
The new equipment came in after hospital management aspired to apply for secondary or tertiary hospital status.
However, because of lack of required medical specialists and resident doctors, the hospital was only accredited to operate as a primary hospital, resulting in the non-use of inspected equipment.
Lack of funds impeded the hiring of medical personnel which could have raised the level of the hospital and put the equipment in good use, the hospital chief stated.
To exacerbate things, the Department of Health issued an order that reclassified the categories of hospitals and health facilities in the country as enshrined in the Hospital Licensure Act.
Under the old classification, surgical and ancillary services like operating and delivery rooms were not required in Level 1 facilities.
In the new classification, Level 1 facilities must have minimum services like “fully functioning operating room” with standard equipment, maternity facilities, isolation facilities, dental section and clinic, blood station and services of a consulting pathologist and radiologist.
“As a result of this new classification, the current level of [the San Pablo City hospital]which was at Level 1 was downgraded to temporary level,” the report furthered.
The hospital chief said they had frozen hiring to prioritize the needed medical staff and regain Level 1 classification.
COA commented that non-utilization of the procured hospital equipment “may cause obsolescence,” considering that the building itself is depreciating.
“It deprived the constituents of San Pablo City of the benefit from the taxes they pay to the city government,” government accountants said.
Auditors asked the city management to give way for the hiring of medical staff first in order for the hospital to complete the requirement of the Health department and become a functional hospital.