THE NEW management of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital (USTH) has pledged transparency in its transactions and operations.

The one-year-old management, Summit Ventures Marketing Group, Inc., made the promise due to perceptions that it had tightened its policies on public information.

Past instances for which the hospital was perceived to have scrimped on giving information to the media was due to “lack of coordination and proper communication,” said Pilar Almira, USTH chief operating officer.

Last Sept. 1, the Varsitarian published an article on the hospital’s strict policies on information.

The incident stemmed from the Varsitarian’s attempts to secure data on the hospital’s rates for a comparative survey on hospital services by the Inquirer in line with the National Hospital Week celebration.

The Varsitarian’s publications adviser, who is also an editor of the broadsheet, wrote to Almira about the survey, adding that USTH was the only university-based hospital to be included in the survey. However, the administration office only gave the Varsitarian a run-around.

When the comparative survey was published last Aug. 12, Human Resource and Administration director Atty. Carlito Villanueva wrote to the Inquirer, stating that some of the rates in the survey were erroneous. He said that it gave an impression that the hospital was overcharging.

The letter was published by the Inquirer last Sept. 9. But the Inquirer explained that it sourced the information from the departments providing the services. The paper added that it had asked formally the hospital administration to provide the information, “but it did not cooperate.”

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Almira said that the hospital had no intention of denying information.

“It’s a pity that the incident happened. Maybe I hurt the Varsitarian or I hurt anyone of you because we were not able to respond immediately to what you wanted. But then, there was no intention to hide the information,” she explained.

Almira said that the hospital is also transparent to its personnel.

“This is the first time we give all information to our employees and doctors. We showed them everything (through the State of Hospital Affairs). We do not have anything to hide here. (And) the rates are not confidential at all,” Almira said.

Meanwhile, the strict security measures, Almira said, were made to avoid past cases of pilferage and incidents of patients leaving the hospital without clearing their bills.

She said that it would help if USTH would be informed about the number of students going in and out of the hospital, and the purpose of their visits so that security measures may be adjusted.

“`Pag estudyante ka, we will (just) require ID, basta isabit mo lang, ok ka na, hindi ka na titignan, so at least the guard will know (because) we feel comfortable with insiders and students,” she said.

Meanwhile, the hospital issued a green sticker for the employees’ ID last June to allow them to pass through the hospital’s entrance and exit points facing the Medicine Building.

The measure, according to the administration, was implemented to ensure the welfare and safety of USTH’s patients and staff.

Information dissemination is both a marketing and a public relations tool that USTH should maintain most especially since the hospital is making efforts to recover lost ground, the hospital officials said.

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“We just need to communicate because rules are made by men and rules can also be changed by men. Rules are supposed to serve the purpose of men and not men to serve the purpose of the rules,” Almira explained.

She added that the measures of the hospital are not meant to discriminate or cause inconvenience to anyone.

“We can definitely address these (complaints) like all other requests from sectors of the University. We have rationalized our measures but we want you to understand that we put these things not to discriminate anybody in the University,” she said.

When the USTH administration was informed that the Varsitarian was denied access to basic hospital information, Almira sent a letter to the publication last Aug. 17 inviting the Varsitarian for a meeting.

“If in the past there was a kind of miscommunication or misunderstanding, please be rest assured that our office, all of us in the hospital do not want this thing to happen (again).”

“Let us keep the communication lines open. If there is any concern you have, please feel free to come to our office and we will resolve it right away,” Almira said. Ma. Lynda C. Corpuz


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