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Caring beyond curing |


Caring beyond curing

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes - The Philippine Star
Caring beyond curing
The (cancer) doctors are in: (From left) Dr. Conrado Gabriel Lorenzo III, head of HCCH’s Medical Advisory Board; Dr. Gaudencio Vega, Department of Radiation Oncology head; Dr. Manuel Francisco Roxas, medical director and head of Colorectal Center of Excellence; and Dr. Daniel Alonzo, head of Head & Neck Center of Excellence.
STAR / File

Hospitals are often perceived as sterile and imposing structures. However, a number of modern healthcare institutions around the globe — think the floating psychiatric hospital in France, or Maggie’s Fife in Scotland  designed by Zaha Hadid) — are  re-imagining what architectures of healing can be, creating spaces that embrace nature’s elements, and integrating innovative technologies.

In the Philippines, a hospital specializing in cancer care recently opened, introducing innovative treatments and healthcare concepts that incorporate compassion, nature, art and music, and aesthetics into the healing process.

Designed by architect Dan Lichauco, the Healthway Cancer Care Hospital (HCCH) in Taguig City serves as a catalyst for recovery,  transcending boundaries to create spaces that enhance the patient’s healing journey.

“There’s a two-pronged approach to achieve that. First, make it as easy and pleasant as possible to the patient. We have to make  sure that the spaces are warm, pleasant and inviting,” explains Lichauco.

This was done by using familiar colors, tactile surfaces and natural light in all areas where patients spend a lot of time.

Healthway Cancer Care Hospital (HCCH), the first comprehensive and dedicated cancer hospital in the Philippines.

“We also paid attention to patient's privacy. Discussions (about their condition) must always be done in private — not in waiting areas and corridors,” Lichauco adds.

At Healthway Cancer Care Hospital, there are numerous family meeting rooms that allow for this. Here, bed elevators and visitor elevators are separated so that bed-ridden patients can have privacy and preserve their sense of dignity.

The hospital ward is also designed with the patient’s privacy in mind. Each patient is confined in a room with a door and a window, unlike in other hospitals where the beds are only separated by curtains.

The Healthway Cancer Center Hospital has a roofdeck where patients can have their daily dose of sunlight and fresh air.

The second approach isn't as obvious. "We provided the staff with a lot of space so they can do their work easily and effectively," adds Lichauco.

There’s also a roof deck where patients can get their daily dose of  sunlight and fresh air.

But what makes Healthway Cancer Care Hospital special is the fact that it’s where world-class, holistic and affordable treatments are developed with the well-being of Filipino cancer patients in mind.

Healthway Cancer Care Hospital Linear Accelerator in the Radiation Oncology Departmet.

Elevating the patient experience

Situated in the Arca South community — just a few minutes from Bicutan exit along the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) — HCCH is part of AC Health’s Healthway Medical Network. It is founded on the belief that “every cancer patient deserves a human-centric approach to cure.”

“The HCCH is a labor of love, a concept that we decided to explore a few years ago because we want to provide a different kind of cancer care that’s more holistic and more aligned with how the Healthway Medical Network repositions itself, which is delivering our mantra of ‘caring beyond curing,’” shares Dr. Jaime Ysmael, president and CEO, Healthway Medical Network. “And, of course, the patient is front and center of everything that we do.”

Bright and spacious, the hospital lobby looks like a hotel lobby with artworks by Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

The hospital features an integrated outpatient department with a specialized women’s health unit, ensuring comprehensive care. Its advanced cancer imaging center offers leading interventional oncology, radiology, and nuclear medicine procedures, aiding in early cancer detection.

The cancer treatment units boasts a fully equipped radiation oncology section with Varian’s latest Linear Accelerator and 18 chemotherapy infusion hubs for administering chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Additionally, the hospital houses four specialized operating theaters, two advanced endoscopy rooms, and other ancillary services to support patient needs.

According to AC Health president and CEO Paolo Borromeo, HCCH is a “dream come true.”

“We’re passionate about bringing world-class cancer care to the Philippines at affordable rates,” he said during the guided media hospital tour.

To achieve that, HCCH has partnered with leading medical and pharmaceutical industry players such as Siemens, Healthineers, Varian, Roche, AstraZeneca, and MSD.

“For instance, there’s a chemotherapy pill from AstraZenec a that retails for P10,000 per pill. And you have to take it once a day or for as long as your doctor asks you. Here, we only offer it at P2,995,” Borromeo enthuses.

HCCH’s PET/CT scan, a vital diagnostic procedure for cancer, is only P48,000, which Borromeo adds, is also cheaper than other institutions.

“PET/CT Scan is the best diagnostic tool for detecting tumor. In India, for instance, they diagnose 95% of their patients with it. In the Philippines, only 20% of our patients opt for PET/CT Scan. Why? Because it’s too expensive. It ranges from P75,000 to P90,000. Here at HCCH, we try to reduce our prices so that we can improve utilization. Our philosophy is to utilize the machine para masulit. We’d rather price low, and increase volumes (patients),” Borromeo says.

Centers of excellence

HCCH boasts four Centers of Excellence for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lunch cancer, and head and neck cancer, which provide comprehensive care for various cancer types, covering the entire spectrum, from screening to survivorship.

It also offers specialized cancer programs for pediatric oncology, gynecologic oncology, hematologic oncology, among others.

Going beyond conventional pain and nutrition management, it distinguishes itself with its groundbreaking Quality of Life (QOL) program — the first of its kind in the country.

This holistic initiative addresses all facets of patient well-being, including psychosocial support — from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.

Seamlessly integrated with the COE program, the QOL initiative ensures that patients receive comprehensive tailored to their individual needs. When necessary, patients can be paired with a dedicated patient navigator, guaranteeing a comforting and supportive experience throughout their journey.

At HCCH, you’re in good hands

But HCCH is really more about our topnotch doctors,” stresses Borromeo. “Without them, this facility is nothing.”

Dr. Manuel Francisco Roxas leads HCCH as its medical director and head of the Colorectal Center of Excellence. He is joined by Dr. Conrado Gabriel Lorenzo III, head of HCCH’s medical advisory board; Dr. Aldine Astrid Basa, head of the Breast Center of Excellence; Dr. Gerardo Cornelio, head of the Lung Center of Excellence; Dr. Gaudencio Vega, head of the Department of Radiation Oncology; and Dr. Daniel Alonzo, head of the Head and Neck Center of Excellence.

“At HCCH, we follow a Multidisciplinary Integrated Unit Approach in the way we deliver care. It’s a team-based approach towards providing healthcare for addressing cancer,” shares Dr. Ysmael.

Doctors work as teams, and drawing on a patient’s unified electronics medical record (which HCCH is currently developing), they will confer  with each other so they can identify the best treatment modality applicable to the patient’s cancer type.

“The idea is to consolidate comprehensive cancer care services under one roof to elevate patient care standards,” notes Dr. Ysmael. “This also allows doctors to easily collaborate on cases and work on treating them in a more time-efficient manner.”

In treating cancer, time is of the essence.

“And here at HCCH, we make our cancer screening programs robust because we want to catch cancer early. That’s the thrust of the hospital,” notes Dr. Conrado Gabriel Lorenzo III, head of HCCH’s Medical Advisory Board. “We offer biomarker testings and targeted treatments for certain cancers. Yes, these procedures are a bit expensive. Still,  the most expensive treatment is the wrong treatment.”

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