SMIC’s investment in healthcare

BUSINESS SNIPPETS - The Philippine Star
SMIC�s investment in healthcare
One of these lessons revealed the vulnerability of health systems buckling under the strain of huge medical demands at the height of COVID-19. With that lesson in mind, SMIC sees the need to step up and anticipate, instead of just responding to any future health crisis.
STAR / File

Investing in healthcare is more important now for SM Investments Corp. following the tough lessons learned from the recent pandemic.

One of these lessons revealed the vulnerability of health systems buckling under the strain of huge medical demands at the height of COVID-19. With that lesson in mind, SMIC sees the need to step up and anticipate, instead of just responding to any future health crisis.

For SM and its foundations, this means providing better community access to quality primary healthcare in partnership with national and local governments.

Medical missions allow access, especially of remote or economically disadvantaged communities, to medical care, education and support. SM Foundation’s (SMFI) medical missions provide free consultations, basic laboratory tests, dental check-ups and appropriate medicine.

SMFI reached an important milestone by conducting more than 1,600 medical missions, benefiting nearly 1.3 million patients year-to-date.

While health facilities offer medical services, SMFI believes that fixing it up through thoughtful and meaningful design can do more for the community than just provide space as rural health centers are considered as lifelines, offering a comprehensive range of health services at a minimal cost or even free to the most vulnerable.

The renovation allows public health centers to meet PhilHealth accreditation standards, resulting in an increase in PhilHealth utilization. It also helps decongest city hospitals, minimizing the spread of communicable diseases.

Through accredited health centers, patients can avail of PhilHealth benefits such as primary care, maternity care and pharmacy needs at the barangay level. These efforts also result in increased capitalization for local governments.

Many sectors also benefit from the renovations, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, terminally ill patients and women and children.

Last year, SMFI breathed new life into UP-PGH’s post-COVID and PulmoCare hub. Prior to the rehabilitation, UP-PGH Division of Pulmonary Medicine chief Dr. Lenora Fernandez recalled that the facility struggled to expand its services to meet the growing needs of the community.

The newly refurbished facility now has a new lobby to receive patients and spacious rooms, with dedicated areas for rehabilitation, ultrasound, cardiopulmonary exercise testing and virtual consultation. Dr. Fernandez is optimistic about the future of the hub and sees the number of patients served growing every year.

Another SM affiliate, BDO Foundation, also achieved a major milestone when it rehabilitated its 160th rural health unit last year. This involved renovating exteriors, layout and interior design, lobbies and waiting areas, offices, birthing clinics, consultation rooms, treatment rooms and pharmacies as well as installing breastfeeding stations for nursing mothers, play areas for children and waiting lounges for senior citizens.

BDO Foundation also installed new signages, furniture and fixtures to help health workers accommodate more patients in environments conducive to good health and well-being. The improvement of facilities empowers doctors, nurses and midwives to provide quality primary healthcare services more often and more efficiently to their constituents. The initiative also benefits mothers, infants and children, persons with disabilities, senior citizens and indigenous peoples living in remote areas.

BDO Unibank and BDO Network Bank officers also recommended health centers in need of assistance. The DOH, local government leaders and health officers backed the initiative by providing guidance on the renovation of RHUs. Through the rehabilitation program, BDO Foundation helped health centers receive high assessment scores in healthcare delivery from the DOH and accreditation from PhilHealth. These improve the healthcare delivery system in the country and is one of the goals under the Philippine health agenda.

Combined, SM Foundation and BDO Foundation have refurbished and built 364 health centers and medical facilities.

As the group reaches out to more communities, it aims to effectively contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 3 (good health and wellbeing) by consistently providing equitable access to quality basic services towards a better and healthier tomorrow.

SMIC is one of the leading Philippine companies that is invested in market-leading businesses in retail, banking and property. It also invests in ventures that capture high growth opportunities in the emerging Philippine economy.

SM’s retail operations are the country’s largest and most diversified, consisting of grocery stores, department stores and specialty retail stores.

SM’s property arm, SM Prime Holdings Inc., is the largest integrated property developer in the Philippines with interests in malls, residences, offices, hotels and convention centers, as well as in tourism-related property developments.

SM’s interests in banking are in BDO Unibank, Inc., the country’s largest bank and China Banking Corp., the fourth largest private domestic bank.

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