(Note: This was published on Aug. 12 issue of SunStar Davao)
YESTERDAY, SunStar Davao came out with a special supplement about the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) as it marked its 100th year. As SunStar has made it as its trademark service, we did not only publish the hospital's press releases as other community media company do, rather, we sent out our writers to get to know SPMC, its officers and personnel and write in-depth stories about the hospital, its people, and services.
Reading through them afterward, one thing stood out: the community spirit that has been guiding and creating the environment that has allowed SPMC to become what it is today.
There are its personnel, who despite the overwhelming number of patients and distressed relatives they have to face every day, carry on with a sense of mission. SPMC Medical Center Chief Dr. Leopoldo J. Vega said they average 600 patients a day in their emergency room, and more than double that number in their outpatient department. That there will be frayed nerves should be expected, medical personnel are humans, too. But that they deliver more than what is required of them should earn them all the praises and gratitude we can give.
This, especially because SPMC caters to the poor and underprivileged. Even as it opened a pay wards over a decade ago to add a little to its income, this only accounts for 10-15 percent of their total number of patients.
Apparent, too, in the 100 years of SPMC is the people's involvement, whether as civic organizations, individuals, or business establishments.
There are donors all around, such that there are three halfway homes for patients in this medical center, a sight you can hardly see in any other government medical facility in the whole country.
These halfway homes, the House of Hope for children with cancer operated by the House of Hope Foundation and sustained by various donors, the Capernaum House by MX3 for indigent patients of other diseases, and the Balay Pasilungan by the German Doctors Hospital for their patients referred to SPMC for the more complicated ailments.
This is aside from the Lingap Para sa Mahirap of the City Government, and yes, what no other government hospital has ever conceived of, a watchers' area big enough to sleep in, simply because people who come over to the SPMC to accompany their patients rarely have enough money to spare for accommodations.
Having seen all these, we celebrate with SPMC their 100th year of service and growth just as we celebrate with the people of Davao their undying generosity and concern for the less privileged.
Indeed, SPMC is there and growing to be not just the biggest government medical center in the country, but also as the testament of how a community of caring hearts can deliver the best health service for all.