The Northern Samar Provincial Hospital (NSPH) will start admitting patients in its new three-storey building on Saturday, March 16 of this year. Governor Jun Ong, together with some heads of department of the Provincial Government of Northern Samar and other stakeholders, led the inspection of the facilities within the new building on March 13 as Dr. Joseph Estanislao, NSPH Chief of Hospital, showed them around to the much improved hospital.

“Improving the state of the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital has been one of the main focuses of my administration. Providing quality health care to the Nortehanons sits high on my priority agenda,” Gov. Ong said.

Though patient rooms are still waiting to be fully used, administrative offices have already started occupying rooms at the first level. Once the new building becomes completely utilized, NSPH will have increased its bed capacity to two hundred (200). Before the construction of the new hospital structure, NSPH has an authorized bed capacity of one hundred (100) with average occupancy reaching 160 patients a day in 2018. Nevertheless, Dr. Estanislao, in an interview with the Provincial Information Office, underlined that with a higher bed capacity, a higher number of patients is also to be expected.

“In all government hospitals, the number of patients always exceeds the bed capacity,” Dr. Estanislao said.

Gradually this year, the new hospital building will accommodate patients as the older building undergoes its own rehabilitation. With new rooms having a bed capacity ranging from one to four, NSPH will have isolation rooms for patients with contagious diseases and the customary common wards. Though the rooms are relatively cleaner and in better conditions, the room rates in the new building will remain the same, e. i. P750/day for private rooms and P500/day for semi-private rooms for those who prefer an upgrade from the service wards.

Dr. Estanislao is hopeful that with the construction of new facilities and improvement of old ones, NSPH is closer to being accredited as a Level 2 hospital by the Department of Health.

“We are overqualified as a Level 1 hospital but though it is a long road to attaining Level 2 certification, the major upgrades we are having is a big step towards achieving that goal,” Dr. Estanislao added.

In order to become a level 2 hospital, Dr. Estanislao said that there is a need to double NSPH’s manpower requirements such as additional doctors, nurses and social workers.

“Currently, NSPH has 28 specialists and 11 resident doctors. Still, there is a shortage in general practitioners,” Dr. Estanilao lamented. General practitioners or family practice doctors will see patients with nearly any issue and refer them to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment.

Level 2 accreditation also requires a DOH licensed tertiary clinical laboratory and level 2 imaging facility, and the provision of respiratory therapy services.

“We need to upgrade our secondary clinical laboratory and to procure an arterial blood gas (ABG) machine [for respiratory therapy] and a portable X-ray machine,” Dr. Estanislao enumerated.

As to the level of competitiveness of NSPH as compared to other private hospitals in Northern Samar, the chief of hospital believes that we are still the best hospital in the province. He debunked the notion that ‘private is always better than public.’

“Of course, we are better than any other private hospital in Northern Samar. Most of the doctors in private hospitals in the area are just a subset of our doctors here in NSPH,” Dr. Estanislao asserts.

Dr. Estanislao announced that the hospital is waiting for the arrival of a new ambulance and that NSPH is a candidate recipient for a CT scan machine from DOH. On concerns regarding the shortage of drugs, medicines and supplies available at the hospital pharmacy, he mentioned that the provincial government is procuring medicines through consignments and outsourcing agreements with pharmacies for the benefit of NSPH and other district hospitals.

Northern Samar Provincial Hospital, instituted in 1956, offers outpatient consultations, in-patient services in pediatrics, internal medicine, OB-gynecology, emergency and elective surgery, dentistry, optometry, radiology and physical therapy. It maintains a clinical laboratory, pharmacy and blood bank, in addition to its operating room, delivery room, and emergency room. It operates both free and private wards. It also has a TB-DOTS/PMDT Satellite Treatment Center for the management of tuberculosis and it is the only hospital in the region outside of Tacloban City with an HIV-AIDS Treatment Hub.

Distinct from other hospitals in Region VIII, it confers free hospitalization for provincial government employees, inclusive of their dependents.