SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go urged Filipinos to utilize the services of Malasakit Centers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as these centers continue to provide convenient and safe access to various medical assistance programs of the government.
In a radio interview, Go said the one-stop shops reduce the need for those who seek medical assistance to go from one government office to another and queue, effectively reducing foot traffic and, possibly, COVID-19 transmission.
“Batas na po ang Malasakit Center. Nasa loob na ng ospital ang apat na ahensya ng gobyerno—ang DOH (Department of Health), PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office), PhilHealth at DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” said Go.
Expressing his concern for Filipinos who had to spend long hours in several queues just to seek government assistance, Go explained that the purpose of these one-stop shops is to ensure that Filipinos gain easier and more convenient access to medical assistance from the government.
“Bakit papahirapan natin ang tao? Uulitin ko, ano ba ang Malasakit Center? Batas na po ‘yan para po ‘yan sa Filipino poor and indigent patients,” Go said.
“Tutulungan po sila ng apat na ahensya ng gobyerno at ‘pag may balanse pa po ay meron pong—halimbawa sa PGH (Philippine General Hospital)—lapitan mo ang ahensya ng gobyerno, may pondong iniwan si Pangulong Duterte. Ang balanse mo babayaran pa ng pondong ‘yun. Ang target nito, zero balance billing,” he explained.
In Malasakit Centers, patients or their representatives will only need to go to one office and fill up a unified form to request assistance, instead of having to visit government offices scattered in various locations.
The process of seeking assistance in these offices has also been simplified through the Malasakit Unified Form, which means that there is only one form to fill up for Filipinos requesting medical assistances. The centers also maintain a database, making it easier for them to gather and retrieve patient information. The processes are also electronic-based, boosting their efficiency and responsiveness.
In addition, an express lane for persons with disability and senior citizens is also available.
Strict health protocols are also being implemented inside the centers.
With the enactment of the Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, all hospitals run by the DOH all over the country and in the PGH in Manila are now mandated to establish their own Malasakit Centers.
Hospitals run by local government units and other public hospitals may also establish their own Malasakit Centers provided that they meet a standard set of criteria and guarantee the availability of funds for the operation of their centers, including their maintenance, personnel and staff training, among others.
In the interview, Go shared that there are already 94 Malasakit Centers nationwide, with the latest one inaugurated at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City, La Union on December 4. It is the first Malasakit Center established in La Union and the third in the Ilocos Region.
“Sa mga kababayan natin, mga mahihirap na pasyente, kakabukas lang natin ng Malasakit Center sa San Fernando, La Union. Pang-94 na po ‘yan,” he said during the interview.