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Public hospital goes beyond status quo to expand reproductive health services

The Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital (DJFMH) successfully passed the Initiation Stage of the Performance Governance System (PGS) during a public revalida on June 11 and was awarded the Silver Trailblazer Award by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA).

DJFMH Medical Center Chief Dr. Esmeraldo T. Ilem presented the tertiary hospital’s governance journey to the esteemed revalida panelists led by the panel chair and ISA Trustee Dr. Nick Fontanilla.

With the growing need for improved maternal and child health care and universal access to reproductive health in the country, the DJFMH, as the national apex center in maternal and neonatal care, found itself in the eye of the global health storm. 

Adamant to meet the reproductive health needs of a swelling population, Dr. Ilem said that the public hospital refuses to be boxed into its specialty services alone.

“We need a branding of Fabella that is beyond pregnancy, delivery, and child health. It can offer more in women’s health. We envision that when you talk about reproductive health, you carry the other 12 elements of reproductive health, and if they go to Fabella, you don’t have to source it out from other place. We should be able to provide these services in Fabella,” Dr. Ilem said. 

In its mission to provide affordable and reliable health services to its patients, the DJFMH launched its 115th Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop that fully covers the cost of hospitalization of its indigent patients. To finance its operations, Dr. Ilem assured that the hospital’s income, along with the allowances of Universal Healthcare, can cover its operational expenses.

“All the income of the hospital is retained and can be used for whatever purpose the hospital intends, not like before where only 25% of the income can be used for infra or procurement. With UHC, tertiary hospitals can allot 30% of its bed occupancy for private practice [which] translates to more than 200 we can allot for private practice where we can generate income,” he noted.

Recognizing the growing reproductive health issues among women in the country, the DJFMH aims to transform into a hospital that not only offers mother-and-child-centric services but delivers comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

“We want to aim to achieve the role of a reproductive health center. We wanna go further and develop into a reproductive health center where other health concerns of women may be addressed. We know that cancer among women ranks high in the top leading causes. We have specialists that will attend to women with these problems,” Dr. Ilem stressed.

One of which is the infertility issues among women in the country. Over the last five decades, the fertility rate of Filipinas was declining at a moderate rate, from 6.15 children per woman in 1971 to 2.49 children per woman in 2020. With only a few private institutions offering infertility solutions like in-vitro fertilization, the DJFMH aims to provide their indigent patients more affordable services.

“We want to establish an infertility center for the poor. This is why we wanna go beyond maternal and neonatal care because our doctors for OB GYN are also gynecologists, four of them are infertility specialists. We want to tap this so our poor people with infertility problems can be managed,” he said.

Since embarking on its PGS journey in 2019, the DJMH positions itself to become a 1000-bed national Apex hospital for women, newborns, and children’s health with functional specialty centers in reproductive health by 2025, with core roadmaps on Patient Care, Training, Research, and Linkages.

Ultimately, as they move and work toward the Compliance stage, the DJFMH aims to continue executing its strategy, establish its very own Multi-Sectoral Governance Council, and forge linkages with regional Maternal, Newborn and Child, and Health and Nutrition centers to capacitate personnel on the provision of reproductive health services.

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