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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities in Northern Mindanao are building more hospitals to address the shortage of beds and staff in case there is a new emergency in the future
Mylah Faye Cariño, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), said the 600-bed St. Francis Doctors’ Hospital and Medical Center has already been constructed along Masterson Avenue. At the same time, the city government of Cagayan de Oro has also finished the construction of a hospital in Barangay Lumbia.
In nearby Gingoog City, trader Arsenio Sebastian said the Polytechnic business group had started constructing a 100-bed capacity hospital that would complement a kidney center being planned by the local government.
Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo said they have already converted a COVID-19 testing center in the capital municipality of Tubod into a facility for infectious diseases.
NEDA 10 and the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Council (RDC) presented these developments during the launching of the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Plan 2023-2028 on June 21.
The plan is to build up the ratio of hospital bed capacity to one per 1,000 patients by 2028. At present, the bed-to-patient ratio in Region 10 is 1: 2,328.
Region 10 is comprised of nine cities—Cagayan de Oro, El Salvador, Gingoog, Iligan, Malaybalay, Oroquieta, Ozamiz, Tangub and Valencia—and five provinces, namely, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental.
“Many of these hospitals are presently funded by private business, but the government would be investing more,” Cariño said.
Ralph Paguio, vice president of Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company and business sector representative to RDC 10, said the government should not be caught unprepared again where hospitals were teeming with record numbers of COVID-19 patients.
“A friend of mine who was infected with COVID-19 died inside his car unattended because the hospital was already full,” Paguio recalled.
He said the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Region 10’s main facility for COVID-19, overflowed with patients as smaller hospitals from the other cities and provinces sent more of their cases.
Cagayan de Oro, during the peak of the pandemic on July 7, 2022, had a cumulative 25,945 cases and 941 deaths since March 2020. (Froilan Gallardo/ MindaNews)