Kidney patients slam hospital’s pusong bato


QUEZON CITY — “Pusong Bato,” Heart of stone.

This is how hemodialysis patients tagged the administration of National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) two days before Valentine’s Day in a protest action in front of the hospital’s gate, February 12, 2016.

Patient and external coordinator of the Hemodialysis Patient’s Organization (HPO) in NKTI, Marivi Toledo said they are very disappointed over the hospital management’s lack of action on patient’s welfare despite numerous meetings and consultations.

“Usapin ng buhay at kamatayan ng mga mahihirap na pasyente ang aming ipinaglalaban,” expressed Toledo. (Our struggle is a matter of life and death of poor patients.)

In their statement, the patients cried foul over the removal of service patients’ 80 percent discount on NKTI hospital expenses and services beginning 2013. “Ang 80% discount para sa mga service patients ng hemodialysis ay sinimulang unti-unting alisin ng NKTI noong 2013. Walang inilabas na kahit anong memorandum ang NKTI management kung bakit kinaltasan nang napalaki ang diskwento para sa mga service patients.”

From 80 percent, NKTI has reduced the discount to 20 percent for service patients reportedly to shift the mode of hemodialysis patients’ treatment to peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplant, said Toledo. But the choices are very delimiting since a single kidney transplant can  cost up to more than P1 million. “Many of our members struggle to make ends meet or earn way below the daily minimum wage. Much as we would like to go for transplant, we simply can’t afford it,” explained Toledo.

On the other hand, peritoneal dialysis is only offered in NKTI and will pose accessibility problems for patients living outside the Metro, she said.

Meanwhile, the patients also raised alarm over the continuous co-pay scheme in NKTI amounting to P550 per dialysis session apart from their Philhealth package. NKTI officials said the co-pay was needed because the hospital will “lose money” (malulugi) if it will only depend on Philhealth’s decreasing subsidy for dialysis.

Toledo lamented that many of their fellow patients fail to undergo their prescribed number of hemodialysis sessions because they don’t have the money for co-pay.

The HPO called on the government for the following demands: 1. Return of the 80% discount on hospital fees for service patients;2. Removal of co-pay in the 90-day Philhealth hemodialysis package; 3. Increase direct government support for patients in public hospitals. #


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