Almost a decade ago

Almost a decade ago, residents of the 6th district of the City of Manila were in a jubilant mood because  a government hospital that would cater to their needs was about to be finished and inaugurated by then Mayor Alfredo S. Lim and the generous philanthropist/businessman who made the donation, Mr. Lucio Tan, Sr. Each district in Manila boasted of a city hospital where  residents received free medical treatment and medicines, except for the 6th district.

The Ospital ng Santa Ana stands on a 8, 800 square meter property on New Panaderos street in the eponymous district which historians vouch was a prosperous settlement older than Manila itself.  In fact, its church was built on top of a hill which used to be a sacred burial ground of pre-Hispanic natives. The policy then was to build Catholic churches precisely on top of areas where the natives went to worship their gods and ancestors.

The hospital is equipped with the latest facilities and Mayor Lim made sure that 90% of its 200-bed capacity would be used for the indigent population of the city. On top of that, Mayor Lim allowed patients from nearby cities to be treated as well. He insisted that free medicines be provided to those who can hardly afford to buy these on their own. There are doctors with different fields of specialization, nurses and medical aides who have dedicated their lives to quality health care services to whoever is in dire need. During his term, Pres. Benigno Aquino III donated an MRI valued at Php 10 million.

The opening of the Santa Ana hospital was a soft one, first the General Ward, then the OB ward and delivery room simultaneously with the Pediatrician ward. The management made sure that the Emergency room had personnel working round-the-clock. In May 2011, the Pharmacy, Radiology section and laboratories were ready to serve the public. A committee was formed to oversee compliance with the Department of Health.  Many civic associations and NGOs brought medical missions, including the Binibining Pilipinas Charity and the Trump brothers. The Rotary Club of Manila was not to be out done, neither was the Taichuing Shin of Taiwan, lnternational Rotary of Canada, Jollibee, Pampers and a host of other compassionate groups and individuals. Nursing schools like that of Concordia College and Manila Tytania wanted to get involved, so did Jose Rizal University, St. Jude College. Pharmacists, med techs and dentists offered time and funds to the Ospital ng Santa Ana.

I was around when Operation Smile came with the Binibining Pilipinas Charity. Mrs. Stella Marquez de Araneta arrived in a black BMW sedan with Ms Shamcey Supsup (3rd runner up of the Miss U) and runners up of the Binibining Pilipinas in tow. As we waited for the formal ceremonies to begin, Stella told me that helping children with cleft palates has always been an advocacy of her charities which I thought was apropos. They must have restored the smiles of many a child with such a simple operation, and who knows, maybe some of those little girls will win titles in one of the beauty contests. Stella did not expect a government hospital to be fully air-conditioned, she was also amazed at the facilities and the number of people who were streaming in for medical care and attention. “Many of them would die, “she said, “if it weren’t for this hospital.” I totally agreed and told her that there are five more public hospitals, but that we were just scratching the surface.

I have no doubt that the sitting mayor, Francisco Moreno, will be just as compassionate, if not more energetic than one of his predecessors, former Mayor Alfredo S. Lim.

( ggc1898@