SPMC:striving to give the masa quality healthcare

“Marginalized people deserve the best too, especially in health care because they do not have a choice but the government hospitals.”

Dr. Leopoldo J. Vega, Chief of Hospital of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) lived by this mantra ever since he took over the reign of the hospital.  After six years, the SPMC stands at par with even the best hospitals in the city in terms of facilities and services.

SPMC has come a long way from a 25-bed capacity hospital along San Pedro St. where it was known as the Davao Public Hospital, to a 1,200-bed capacity hospital which was transferred to J.P. Laurel and through Republic Act 1859, renamed Davao Regional Medical and Training Center. Republic Act 09792, which was enacted in November 19, 2009, however changed the hospital’s name to the Southern Philippines Medical Center. 

The SPMC has recently undertaken an estimated P75 million modernization and expansion project and is now equipped with modern facilities. With the limited funds available, the renovation was done gradually in a period of six years. Today, the SPMC is equipped with facilities that can rival even the best private hospitals in the city and the world, with much-improved operating rooms, diagnostic machines and a separate heart center capable of conducting heart surgeries.

While the hospital has a 1,200 authorized inpatient bed capacity, it regularly caters to an additional 900 people on an outpatient basis and up to 750 patients at the emergency room on a daily basis. Around 75% of SPMC’s patients are from Davao City while the rest are from the rest of the region.

“Up to 80% of our patients here are marginalized and indigent patients who have no other access to healthcare,” he said. With the government’s universal healthcare program, SPMC is now able to provide healthcare even to these indigent patients while sustaining its operations.

Vega said the common belief that SPMC offers free healthcare is not really true since majority of those who cannot pay are given financing through PhilHealth. He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is trying to enroll as many indigents to the government’s healthcare program because “free is no longer tenable.”

“We also enroll our patients to PhilHealth if they come to us without the capacity to pay but they have to be qualified first,” he said. The social workers assigned at the hospital will have to verify the qualification of the indigent patient and the SPMC pays for the P2,400 premium for one year. Surprisingly, SPMC is actually earning from PhilHealth with 80% of its financial income coming from the government health fund.

SPMC’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) for the last five years has remained at a rate of P55 thousand per year but the hospital’s electricity expenses alone is pegged at P48 thousand annually. The hospital has not received a share from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for its capital outlay for the last five years and has only received an infrastructure and capital outlay of P120 million this year.
  
“We thus have to make sure that we are operating sustainably,” he said. The Davao City government is providing a P20 million annual assistance through the Lingap Para sa Mahirap Program of Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.  The 1,200 bed capacity of SPMC requires 3,500 regular plantilla employees but even if it is servicing twice this number, it only has 745 plantilla employees augmented by 1,500 contractual employees.

“There is a big gap in the number of regular plantilla personnel but we manage thanks to the city’s assistance especially in the hiring of contractual workers,” he said.

Mr. Vega is also very proud of the hospital’s computerized hospital information system which allows doctors to see a patient’s x-ray and other laboratory results in any desktop. The hospital’s portable electronic capability allows the medical records of its patients to be fully digitalized such that the hospital can easily check a patient’s hospital records from 10-15 years ago.

While SPMC also caters to patients who are financially capable and get the same facilities and services enjoyed by the indigent ones, Vega said it is the latter which matters most to them since these are the patients who have no other alternative when it comes to health care. “I am more fulfilled in providing care for these people,” he added/

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) was officially awarded by the TUV-SUD-PSB with an ISO 9001:2008 certification making it at par with even the best hospitals in the world.

The TUV-SUD-PSB is an internationally accredited certification body known for its expertise in auditing and certifying a wide range of internationally recognized management systems related to health, safety and environment among others.

“The ISO has been planned two years ago and we have attained it three months ago. We are now given a status of an institution that provides standard of care that is at par with the best hospitals in the world,” Vega said. However, the hospital management is now more concerned in maintaining such accreditation. 

The ISO 9001 Quality Management System is the most popular quality improvement standard worldwide. It is in fact the only standard in the 9000 family of standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that can be used for the purpose of conformity assessment.

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