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Finding Silver Linings: Public hospitals receive Silver Trailblazer Award for sustained efforts amid pandemic

Four government hospitals progressed in the Performance Governance System (PGS) pathway, proving that the global health crisis may hamper but not stop them from providing quality medical services for the Filipino people.

The Western Visayas Medical Center (WVS), Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRRMMC), and Don Jose S. Monfort Medical Center Extension Hospital (DJSMMCEH) embarked on the first step of their transformation journey after being conferred the Initiation Status, while the Region 1 Medical Center (R1MC) progressed to the Proficiency Stage of the PGS during the Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s Public Governance Forum – Online Revalida. All four hospitals also bagged the Silver Trailblazer Award for their strategic plans and emerging breakthroughs. 

Although leprosy cases are presently not a public health threat in the country, Dr. Judy Ann Dumayas of WVS revealed that the disease “is not eradicated” among the population, with the WVS Outpatient Department having accommodated 43 cases in 2018, 42 in 2019, and 23 in 2020, despite the pandemic. 

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic was also a realization for the hospital of the “need for an Infectious Hospital which can accommodate highly communicable cases”. 

Positioning itself as a 300-bed Level 2 green hospital with leprosy care services that serves Region VI by 2025, WVS presented the deliverables they have accomplished amid the crisis, including the implementation of the conversion of Sta. Rita Building to a 14-bed COVID-19 Critical Care Unit, formulation of mental health-related policies, and Level 1 Accreditation of its Adolescent Health Program Services last November 18.

Similarly, Dr. Emmanuel F. Montaña Jr., Medical Center Chief of JRRMMC, said that while the health crisis has hampered their progress, it has also strengthened their determination to push towards their goals. 

“JRRMMC has taken many paths along the way. The pandemic has even slowed us down a bit, but it helped build our resilience. And now it is clear that there is but one path we need to take to put us on the Philippine healthcare map, and this is the path to become the National Cancer Center by 2028,” he said during their revalida.

With cancer as the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country, JRRMMC aims to provide holistic care to its patients by becoming a National Cancer Center by 2028. As for its early wins, the hospital was able to procure new equipment including the digital mammography machine, microscopes, and neurosurgery equipment, among others. To improve its patient care, JRRMMC also conducted weekly multidisciplinary tumor boards since July 2021 and appointed new nurses, paramedical staff, radiologists, and oncologists. 

Meanwhile, the R1MC also experienced the impact of the pandemic on its operations and finances, which ultimately led to the recalibration of its strategic position and implementation of its Pandemic Response Plan.

Dr. Joseph Roland O. Mejia, Medical Center Chief II of R1MC, cited the hospital’s achievements so far, including the establishment of the R1MC Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases, designed to be an end-referral for the COVID patients in the province. In 2020, the R1MC Eye Center also witnessed its first Corneal transplant and the first-ever Phacoemulsification to a pediatric patient with a congenital cataract. 

Meanwhile, the DJSMMCEH proved that with good strategic planning and cascading, the hospital can surpass health challenges like the pandemic and even the resurgence of non-communicable diseases in the country. Out of its 658 commitments, DJSMMCEH managed to achieve 19.3% of its strategic deliverables as of November 2021. 

To expand its human resources, Dr. Mariano S. Hembra, Chief of Hospital II of DJSMMCEH, shared that additional infectious specialists and healthcare personnel were hired through a contract of service, filling a total of 94.29% plantilla positions. The hospital is also on its way to expansion with its fully newly acquired Laparoscopic tower, wound debridement, anesthesia machine with ventilator, and ultrasound for peripheral nerve block now operational.

“We have accomplished all of these things despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these early wins have become possible because we increased our capability of accommodating and treating COVID-19 cases by expanding our covid bed capacity by up to 54% of our total bed capacity. We procured additional equipment, PPEs, medications, established policies and protocols, and hired additional personnel,” Dr. Hembra added.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Hembra said that their accomplishments are “just the start of our journey together towards the achievement of our goals in health”.

“As we move on we will be inspired with what we have accomplished and what we still need to do. We’re looking forward to a more dynamic and fruitful collaboration with our stakeholders to achieve our common goal in Universal Healthcare,” he said.

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