St. Luke's rises on Global City
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - January 16, 2010 - 12:00am

St. Luke’s Medical Center has risen on Global City - with a 14-story nursing tower with a 600-bed capacity, a helipad and podium, an 11-story medical arts building housing 374 doctors’ clinics, hotel-like lobbies on the ground floor, and a multi-level parking with more than 1,000 parking slots.

The state-of-the-art center in Global City houses 10 institutes for the heart, cancer, neurosciences, digestive and liver diseases, eyes, orthopedics and sports medicine, pathology, pediatrics and child care, pulmonary medicines and radiology.

The hospital has 18 operating rooms, five Caesarian section/delivery rooms, imaging suites, ancillary outpatient services, critical care units, cardiac catheterization laboratory, OB-gynecology complex and post anesthetic care units.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will cut the ribbon at the ceremonies marking the opening of the hospital today.

St. Luke’s at Global City is a sister facility of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. St. Luke’s was founded in 1903 with a mission to provide outstanding out-patient care. A board of trustees, established in 1975, governs its operation which was reorganized into a non-stock, not-for-profit charitable corporation.

“We are not abandoning Quezon City, much less reduce its importance,” says Dr. Joven R. Cuanang, SVP for medical affairs and chief medical officer for both facilities. “In fact what we are doing is we are duplicating all the services that are found in Quezon City to Global City.”

The new facility, boasting of excellent architecture, carries state-of-the-art technology not found in other hospital institutions. These include PET/CT and cyclotron, 256-slice CT scanner, extracorporeal shockwave myocardial revascularization, 3 Testla magnetic resonance imaging, SPCT/CT, double balloon enteroscopy.

But more than these technological wonders, both St. Luke’s centers have launched the Center for Quality and Patient Safety, the first of its kind in the country. This program commits the institutions to consistently implement, sustain and improve the hospital’s quality and safety objectives, as well as introduce initiatives and projects that primarily aim to prevent or minimize, if not eliminate, the incidents and errors leading to patient harm.

During a tour of the impressive Global City facility, Dr. Cuanang told us of mistakes that should never happen, such as giving the wrong medication to patients, operating on the wrong patient, operating a patient for another disease, and leaving a pair of scissors or gauze inside a patient’s stomach after surgery.

Dr. Alejandro Dizon, chief quality officer, said that the Institute of Medicine in the United States “generated a lot of interest in patient safety when it came out with its report titled, ‘To Err Is Human’ back in 1999. That report stated that close to 100,000 people die in American hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented.”

This quality and patient safety emphasis makes St. Luke’s a cut above the rest. Understandably, it is the only hospital in the country to receive the Investors in People (liP) certification. Jane P. Webster, liP UK assessor, said, “We were impressed with St. Luke’s clear strategy for being a hospital that can compare with the best in the world, and their commitment to continuous improvement. This strategy is supported by a way of managing people that seeks to develop their skills, involve and empower them.”

In 2003, St. Luke’s was the first hospital in the Philippines and the second in Asia to be accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI); the accreditation was repeated in 2006. It also received the Kapatiran Award from the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines and the Platinum Trusted Brand Award from Reader’s Digest.

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On another front, out of patriotism, 18 newly-licensed doctors - 10 from the University of the Philippines, six from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and two from West Visayas State University — pledged the two initial years of their careers to practice medicine in “the most underserved barrios” in the country.

The young physicians expressed their gratitude to the First Gentleman Foundation Inc. (FGFI) headed by its president, Juris Umali Soliman, which helped them pass the 2009 Physicians’ Licensure Examinations.

Deborrah Gesite Liao committed to render her service to one of 181 impoverished barrios like Gamay, Northern Samar, and Angelo de Guzman chose to serve in San Jose, Dinagat Island in Mindanao.

The physicians are following in the footsteps of former Health Secretary and Senator Juan Flavier who had encouraged First Gentleman Juan Miguel Arroyo to initiate the “Bagong Doktor Para Sa Bayan,” a project that grants scholarships to needy but deserving fourth and fifth year medical students from UP, PLM, WVSU in Iloilo, and Mindanao State University in Iligan City. With the help of the Department of Heath, Mr. Arroyo’s project under the FGFI will be able to complete its support of 150 scholars this year.

Newly-licensed Deborrah Liao hopes to leave a legacy of promoting a healthy lifestyle and improve the health practices of the people in Gamay. She vows to address maternal and child care issues after reading statistics that “there is a problem with high infant and maternal mortality rates in the Philippines.” Deborrah said she is hopeful of fulfilling her goal, subscribing as she does, to the belief that “as long as the youth are moving to make a change, great things could happen to this country.”

For his part, Angelo said he does not mind going out of his comfort zone. He is excited “to take on the challenges of introducing health practices that might be new for the townsfolk of San Jose in Dinagat Island.” For instance, lessons could be taught on washing one’s hands properly to keep healthy, constructing toilets, and eating healthy foods.

The doctors will experience culture shock as they go to the barrios where there are no light and water facilities, no McDos and Internet facilities, where they will be paid in eggs and chicken. But, from the experiences shared by previous doctors to the barrios, they will love the people and places they have chosen to serve.

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