"The hospital has always been beset by inadequate financing and enormous difficulty in trying to cope with the excessive demand for its service"
If there is a government institution that needs every bit of help that it can get from any source, it is the PGH (Philippine General Hospital). The training facility of the College of Medicine of University of the Philippines Diliman, PGH has always been beset by inadequate financing and enormous difficulty in trying to cope with the excessive demand for its services. Media accounts abound of urgent cases not being attended to immediately, of patients spilling into the hospital’s hallways of interns and trainees using their personal funds to pay for indigents’ medicine needs and of other situations similar in character.
PGH’s situation is truly pathetic. It would like to fulfill the requirements of patients from not only Metro Manila but also the nearby provinces who prefer to have their medical problems treated at UP’s training facility rather than in their local hospitals. Unfortunately, it has diagnostic and bed capacities for only a fraction of the number of Filipinos who flock to it for treatment. PGH’s funding is limited to its allocation from UP Diliman’s share of the GAA (General Appropriations Act) and donations made to it by domestic and foreign benefactors. The funds are never sufficient, and in order to make ends meet, PGH has to cut back on some operational things—including things vital to a hospital’s efficient operation—and forego others entirely.
If government funding is inadequate, PGH can—and should—turn to the private sector at large. In this regard I am reminded of how the late Gregorio S. Licaros responded, when he was governor of the then-Central Bank of the Philippines, to the request of the Community Chest of Greater Manila for financial support. The CB (now the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) was a favorite target of support-seeking benevolent institutions because of the monetary authority’s influence over the members of the banking community; an endorsement from the CB, carrying the signature of the Governor, carried much weight with the banks.
A first-rate financial manager, Governor Licaros thought of a one-time, big-target fund-raising event to replace the Community Chest’s annual solicitation, which usually did not yield much money. With the much larger amount raised by a big-bang solicitation drive, the finances of PGH would become more stable and it would be able to make long-term plans. An eight-figure amount was set for the big-bang fundraising.
To ensure the success of the fund-raising Mr. Licaros threw the full weight of the CB behind that effort. In speeches that he made before business and civic organizations, the CB chief managed to insert a request for support of the Community Chest fundraising drive. The banks responded handsomely, and so did the rest of the business community; the eight-figure target was exceeded. Community Chest did not have to engage in an annual solicitation drive in the succeeding years.
The Community Chest fundraising scheme organized by Governor Licaros is the fund-raising model that I have in mind—and recommend—for the PGH. The venerable hospital along Manila’s Taft Avenue is totally deserving of the full support of everyone, Metro Manilans and non-Metro Manilans alike, who values the dedicated and highly competent medical service it dispenses to lower-income Filipinos. The finances of PGH need to be placed on a stable basis so that it can operate without always having to worry about whether it can cover all its operating expenses. Ideally, the business community, with its abundant resources, should lead the fund-raising effort.
A one-time, high-target solicitation effort—is what PGH needs. Let it happen soon.