Three public hospitals, namely, the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center (BRGHGMC), and Cebu-based Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) are off to a memorable start of the year as they presented the emerging results of their long-term strategic plans in a public revalida. 

These development plans are anchored on the Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s Performance Governance System (PGS), a four-stage pathway that implements good governance in the health setting to contribute a more responsive health system.

The mother of innovation

Starting off in the South, ZCMC Chief Dr. Afdal B. Kunting shared their story as the lone tertiary referral hospital in the region. Determined to expand their range of health services, ZCMC has been working to become an 800-bed Regional Apex hospital with specialty institutes in Kidney, Diabetes, Brain, Mental Health, Neonatology, Geriatrics, Biomarine, and Toxicology by 2022. 

Though their path had already been charted for take-off, the COVID-19 pandemic soon proved to be a tough roadblock that would delay the completion of their plans. Still, ZCMC was determined to continue serving the population and so, from this roadblock emerged many innovative solutions. 

During the early days, ZCMC faced a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) along with most hospitals in the country. Still, Dr. Kunting said that “necessity is the mother of innovation” and thus ZCMC developed their own face shields, coveralls, splash guards and negative pressure booths. 

In photo: Zamboanga City Medical Center Chief Dr. Afdal B. Kunting speaks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the construction of two COVID-19 isolation buildings.

Aside from establishing molecular laboratories that were eventually certified as subnational testing facilities, they also launched a teleconsultation program in collaboration with telecommunication companies and the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) following the restrictions on seeing out-patients. 

The first of its kind

Over in South Luzon, the Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center (BRGHGMC) is leading the way in establishing the pioneer geriatric health facility—the first of its kind in the Philippine public health system. 

“We have seen geriatric patients treated just like ordinary adults when, in fact, there is a unique aspect of geriatric health needs that must be addressed and considered differently from other medical conditions,” said BRGHGMC Chief Dr. Edgardo R. Sarmiento. 

In photo: The Geriatric Medicine Wellness Center of Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center

The Bicol hospital strives to be a 200-bed level 2 general hospital and geriatric center with comprehensive services serving Bicol and adjacent regions by the year 2025. It aims not only to decrease patient referral to higher level hospitals but also establish an integrated care for the elderly from hospital to home. On a wider scale, BRGHGMC is also pushing for research to develop clinical practices with a goal of contributing to national policy making.

The flavor of the month

‘Beyond mandate’ seems to be the flavor of the month as Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) likewise pursues an initiative past their mandate as a general tertiary teaching and training medical facility. Since passing their Initiation stage of the PGS, ‘Sotto’ has expressed its intention to establish an undergraduate medical degree. 

VSMMC Chief Dr. Gerardo M. Aquino cited the shortage and maldistribution of physicians in the country and within Cebu itself as their reason for entering the academe. For Aquino, creating the CNU-VSMMC College of Medicine together with the Cebu Normal University (CNU) is “a legacy to leave behind” for those aspiring to enter the medical field.

In their Compliance revalida, Dr. Aquino reported that since July 2019, curriculum development has already started along with the convening of the faculty. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was also able to conduct a virtual inspection last October 2020 as required for the permit to operate the Doctor of Medicine program. 

“Before we embarked on the application, we had a workshop with the officers of CNU and doctors. [We asked,] ‘how will we go [about] the rollout and the requirements for us go forward?’ It was something unique because it’s the first consortium with a level 3 government hospital and a government university [in Cebu],” shared Dr. Aquino.

In recognition of their unique innovations and achievements in making healthcare more accessible in their regions, ZCMC and BRGHGMC passed the Initiation stage of the PGS while VSMMC passed the Compliance stage. All three hospitals also bagged a Silver Trailblazer Award each on top of their conferral.