The Philippine public hospitals and local health centers ceaselessly fulfill their duty to bridge the gaps in health and wellness despite countless hurdles—from health scares to persistent resource constraints and infrastructure challenges.
As these quests become more daunting, the Filipino spirit of “bayanihan” thrives within these walls. SM Foundation’s (SMFI) health and medical programs joined forces with healthcare workers in fulfilling their advocacy for improved healthcare of communities.
A staunch believer in the positive impact of health and wellness, the social good arm of the SM group upgrades health facilities in the country. Two of its recent endeavors were at the Air Force City Hospital (AFCH) in Clark and the Lucban Health Center (LHC) in Baguio.
Heeding a call
AFCH’s scope goes beyond the Philippine Air Force (PAF). While catering primarily to PAF personnel, their dependents, authorized civilians, and nearby minorities rely on its services. It’s also the designated venue for PAF applicants and personnel’s medical examinations.
With the easing of COVID-19 cases, the hospital has seen an increase in patients seeking treatment, diagnostic procedures, and preventive care. However, they struggled to cope with the growing demand due to several infrastructural challenges, such as limited space, outdated equipment, poor ventilation, and areas that lack permanent partitions, compromising the patients’ privacy and comfort.
“With no Trauma Room, the healthcare workers used curtains to provide privacy when treating trauma patients. Storage for medicines, medical equipment and supplies, and the trauma beds were placed at the passageway from the emergency room (ER) main entrance to the nurse’s station. This made the main entrance of the ER crowded or inaccessible,” AFCH Commanding Officer LTC Darwin Farnacio MC (GSC) recalled the old state of the facility.
“The old setup was also unfavorable, and at times, even traumatic for other ER patients and their loved ones, because they used to witness drastic lifesaving procedures performed whenever a trauma patient arrived,” he said.
Much like AFHC, Lucban Health Center wholeheartedly served the community amidst the infrastructure limitations.
“As the health center’s poor condition somewhat directly impacted the quality of healthcare services provided to the patients, by addressing the structural and equipment issues, the renovation would significantly improve the overall patient experience and healthcare outcomes,” Lucban Health Center’s Medical Officer III Deansy Licawen said.
Improving the local health centers
Breathing new life into health centers, SMFI aligned the facilities’ needs with DOH guidelines, ensuring patients receive the care they deserve.
The once cramped, dimly lit facilities with limited privacy now boast organized and dedicated spaces for procedures and programs. Proper lighting and ventilation bathe the centers, replacing the previous dimness.
SMFI also enhanced the layout for ease of access, comfort, and contamination prevention. Inclusivity is at the forefront, with PWD-friendly features, comfortable and secure breastfeeding rooms nestled within, and a Mobile Play Cabinet that aims to educate young patients while keeping them entertained before their check-up.
The vibrant and welcoming atmosphere extends to the healthcare staff, providing well-equipped rooms for them to perform their administrative and medical duties in a conducive environment.
After SMFI’s renovation at AFCH, Farnacio noticed that patients and their companions are in a better mood before their checkups and procedures.
“We used to see some patients leaving before their medical procedures were completed, but now I’m proud to say that they now have a more comfortable space to wait in. Patients due for diagnostic procedures now have a more comfortable waiting area that is air conditioned with a television set and soft couches, making them at ease and have a “feel at home” environment while waiting. Patients under observation at the ER can now rest well as compared to before, when there was no divider between the beds of the ER,” he said.
“The renovation certainly enhanced our ability to deliver healthcare services more effectively by providing a pleasant and more comfortable venue for our patients while they are being treated and waiting to be treated. The renovated areas with its new furnitures and fixtures make it more spacious. Our equipments are now more accessible, allowing us to act more promptly and deliver services faster,” he said.
Lucban Health Center is also optimistic as they steadily observe an increase in new patients drawn to the modern facilities in the recently renovated center. This optimism is matched by their renewed eagerness to deliver services in their efficient workstations.
“The renovated health center has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients, such as “Wow, ang ganda na. Hindi na nakakainip mag-antay. Hindi na kami naaarawan o nauulanan sa labas”. They have also commended the cleanliness and organization of the new facility. The modified layout with the addition of visible labels and markings has made it easier for patients to navigate the center and the increased privacy in the examination rooms brought about by the installation of new accordion doors, has been well-received,” Licawen noted.
“Since the opening of the newly renovated center, we have observed a slow but constant increase in patient visits. Worth noting is the utilization of new and first-time patients of our facility. In time, the improved center will attract new patients and encourage existing patients to utilize the services more frequently,” she hoped.
To learn more about the SM Foundation, visit www.sm-foundation.org.