Daraga, Albay—Bicolanos need not travel to Manila anymore for heart treatment with the opening of their own Heart Center at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) in Legazpi City.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, who worked hard to source funds for the P300-million Bicol Regional Heart Center, said the facility is a joint project of BRTTH and the Philippine Heart Center.
It is the government’s fourth facility of its kind in the country, with state-of-the-art equipment and highly-trained medical staff.
With the new BRTTH Heart Center, Salceda said Bicolano heart patients will save a lot from the costs of travel and the tiresome trips to Manila for treatment. Travel by land from Legazpi to Manila normally takes 10 hours or more. The facility could also help serve patients from Eastern Visayas.
Salceda said The BRTTH Heart Center expects about 4,000 patients a year from all over Bicol and neighboring provinces, to avail of its services, from 2D echo-cardiogram to coronary angiogram, angioplasty, pacemaker insertions, bypass-graft, and open surgery.
It has 15 private and 20 semi-private wards, five executive suites, nine coronary care units, three operating rooms, and six emergency rooms—three for adults and three for children. It also has seven recovery rooms aside from seven others reserved at the nearby kidney center.
“Over the past 21 years I have been an ardent believer and supporter of the BRTTH development, being the apex healthcare facility of Albay and Bicol,” Salceda stressed.
He earlier served as Albay congressman for nine years, then governor for another nine years until 2016, when he returned to Congress. He now runs unopposed in his re-election bid for Albay’s second congressional district.
The lawmaker has also recently filed House Bill 8856 in Congress, seeking to expand the bed capacity of BRTTH from 250 to 800 beds, upgrade its facilities, and augment its staff to meet the needs of a large and modern facility that serves the entire Bicol.
The region covers Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Sur, and the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes.
HB 8856 seeks to develop the century-old BRTTH, formerly a US Army barracks hospital, as the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) of the South, with an expanded 800-bed capacity.
“It a facility that is continuously able to cater to more patients from Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes, many of whom are barred by the rising costs and travel distance to Metro Manila,” Salceda said.
The solon said he has strived hard to help equip BRTTH with various vital facilities including its PhilHealth Ward, P580-million equipment modernization; its P400-million Trauma ER; its P150-million Bicol Cancer Institute, and its P80-million MRI center now on dry run.
His efforts include the P1.7-billion 600-bed capacity hospital building now under construction; its P78-million full rehabilitation from the devastation of Typhoon “Reming” in 2006, and now its Bicol Regional Heart Center, aside from some 630 jobs created and filled up over the past three years.
BRTTH, even with its limited capacity and resources, has been expanding its services to meet the health demands of Bicolanos to cope with its mandate by the Department of Health for it to become the Heart, Lung, Kidney Center and recently as Cancer center in its area, he pointed out.
The BRTTH centers cater to the entire region, being the sole comprehensive health service provider to address chronic illnesses. It is expected that the upgrade will result in an increase in the number of patients it has to serve in the coming years, Salceda added.
Of its envisioned 800-bed capacity, Salceda’s HB 8856 seeks to earmark 600 for the BRTTH general hospital section, and 200 for its specialty and subspecialty services.