New Laoag Hospital in “Soft” Operation

LAOAG CITY, July 14 – Laoag Mayor Michael V. Fariñas once described the upgrading of the new Laoag City General Hospital as primarily designed to provide a modern health care facility for ordinary citizens while the grandeur that the structure will exude would be secondary.

But last July 8 when the new government hospital was formally opened to start its “soft operation,” the once obscure city medical facility located in the city outskirt gave Laoageneos and the whole Ilocos Norteneans an awesome sight– an imposing five-story edifice with 120-bed capacity that is equipped with state-of-the-art hospital facilities. The building is painted with dominant color green.

The modern hospital initially offers out-patient and emergency services, laboratory examinations, and pharmacy needs. Its full operation is expected to go blazing before the year ends.

The P350-million hospital is one of Mayor Farinas’ pet projects which he promised to his city constituents when he began his term in 2004. He is now on his last rule as three-term Laoag’s chief executive.

“This one last ride, I suppose, will be a bit easier. The struggles have been surpassed,” he said noting that he started to push for the hospital’s improvement since 2002.

Fariñas fought, through thick and thin, for the hospital’s upgrading in response to the popular public clamor for quality yet affordable health care.

It may be recalled that Mayor Fariñas had a deal with the Japan International Cooperation Agency for a grant package to improve the then old existing hospital. However, the grant was later diverted to another government hospital when the mayor failed to get the provincial government’s endorsement.

Then Gov. Michael Keon even went to court and tried to block the hospital upgrading project noting that modernizing the city general hospital would pose undue competition to the existing Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital which is being run by the provincial government.

After bouts of legal skirmishes, the city government eventually got the approval of the Department of Health until the hospital’s groundbreaking pushed through in 2009.

Fariñas said now that the hospital is “softly operational”, it initially provided job opportunities to qualified health personnel with the initial hiring of more than 150 medical and administrative staff.

Meanwhile, Dr. Juanito Rubio Jr., chief executive officer of the new Laoag City General Hospital, told newsmen that outgoing patients or relatives are welcomed to make written comments or suggestions in their discharge slip on how to further improve the hospital services.

Better still, he said, a suggestion box would be set up in the hospital’s strategic places so that people may drop their written suggestion notes. (With reports from EDG)