UST Hospital defers retrenchment of workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 4) — The University of Santo Tomas Hospital (USTH) on Monday decided to place on hold the retrenchment of its non-frontline workers pending a thorough review.

The memo on the termination of employees will be subject for review by the UST Board of Trustees on their meeting scheduled on May 20, according to its chairman, Rev. Fr. Napoleon Sipalay Jr.

The latest announcement was posted on the university's official Facebook page a day after USTH said it is retrenching its non-frontline workers to cope with financial losses brought upon by the COVID-19 crisis and the alleged delayed reimbursement by state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Dr. Marcellus Francis Ramirez, medical director of USTH, said the hospital took contingency measures, such as cancellation of elective procedures and admissions, to give way to the intensive care of COVID-19 patients — leading to a huge financial cost.

"Painful decisions were needed to be made. In view of the enormous impact of the pandemic, USTH has to implement the right-sizing of its non-crucial (non-frontliner) manpower complement, in addition to other measures which included adjustment of operating hours and implementation of other cost efficiency measures," he said in a statement posted on Varsitarian.

Ramirez also said PhilHealth owes the hospital at least ₱180 million in expenses for patients serviced in 2019.

"Reimbursement is delayed by an average of 5-6 months," he pointed out. "Currently the receivable of USTH from Philhealth stands at more than ₱180 million and counting."

PhilHealth denied the allegations and said that it paid the hospital ₱400 million a year in the last five years.

“In the past five years, we paid UST Hospital a total of ₱2.1 billion, about ₱400 million a year. Last month, we advanced to them ₱85 million, specifically to respond to COVID-19 hospitals,” PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales told CNN Philippines’ News Night.

He added, “Wala kaming utang na ₱180 million sa UST Hospital.”

[Translation: We don’t owe the UST Hospital a ₱180 million.]

PhilHealth also asked USTH to double check its figures as there seems to be a discrepancy.

"Malaki ang naibalik namin sa kanila in claims because of deficiencies on their part," Dr. Shirley Domingo, vice president and spokesperson of PhilHealth, told CNN Philippines on Monday. "Ang sinasabi ko, hindi accurate ang kanilang sinabing ganyan, and I advice them to look at their data and review their claims and reconcile with us."

[Translation: We have reimbursed them more in claims because of deficiencies on their part. The figure they gave is not accurate. I advise them to look at their data and review their claims and reconcile with us.]