VSMMC has expanded from a 30-bed facility to a tertiary facility with 400 beds-A A +A
Monday, January 14, 2013
HISTORY walked inside the operating room of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) on Feb. 21 last year, when a team of doctors conducted the first open-heart surgery in the government hospital.
Cristabel Boybanting, who was 13, was afflicted with a congenital heart disease until the VSMMC in Cebu City chose her for the free surgery.
She was released from the hospital seven days after the operation.
But four years earlier, it was a less happy outcome in another surgery that tainted the hospital’s image and history. A video of an operation on a man, who needed a perfume canister removed from his rectum, was uploaded to the video-sharing site YouTube.
It showed the medical team giggling and laughing inside the operating room when the object was pulled out.
In 2010, the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed the cases against seven doctors, five nurses and two clinical instructors of a private university involved in the incident, for lack of evidence.
The VSMMC turned 100 years old yesterday. Aside from serving less fortunate people in the Visayas and Mindanao, it is also the lifeblood of vendors and drugstores nearby.
“Dako kaayog natabang nang ospitala namo uy (That hospital helped us a lot),” said food vendor Roberto Palao.
The 67-year-old former mining firm worker in Toledo City said that some patients’ relatives and hospital workers eat at his food stall. He earns P200 to P300 per day.
But sometimes, he said, people who came from far-flung towns approached him and begged for soup.
“Ako lang tawn hatagan (I just gave them some soup),” he said. “Makasabot ra man ta kay pobre man sad ta (I can understand them for I am poor like them).”
Pharmacy assistant Jaylevil Jacube, 20, said their drugstore earns well, despite having several competitors as their neighbors.
Aside from attending to her customers’ needs, she also learned how to deal with patients’ relatives who asked for discounts for drugs needed for surgery.
“Naay uban mosulti, naay uban maulaw (Some people speak up, but the others are too embarrassed),” she said. “Maluoy sad ko kay pobre man ko. Mopalit na sila sa gawas kon wala sud sa pharmacy sa ospital (I feel sorry for them. I know what it’s like to be poor. They end up buying drugs outside if the hospital has no stock).”
She said they can only give discounts to senior citizens, as required by law.
One time, she said, a female customer who was watching a patient in VSMMC bought 15 antibiotic capsules worth P480. The woman lacked P50, but she persuaded Jacube to let her bring the medicine to the hospital.
The customer did not return, and Jacube said she paid for the remaining amount herself.
VSMMC, according to its website, is “a general, tertiary medical center teaching/training facility” operated by the Department of Health (DOH). “It aims to provide health care services that are available, affordable, accessible and acceptable to all regardless of social status.”
The hospital began its operation in 1911 as the Hospital Del Sur. The enactment of Republic Act (RA) 2725 on Jan. 13, 1913 granted its status and the name was changed to Southern Islands Hospital. It operated with only 30 beds.
After 84 years, RA 7528 was approved on May 21,1992, and the hospital was renamed again to honor the Cebuano journalist and politician Vicente Sotto.
Shortly afterwards, RA 7588 was passed on June 1, 1992, allowing the facility’s bed capacity to increase to 400.
Dr. Gerardo Aquino, VSMMC chief, said the hospital now has 800 beds and received a budget of P155 million last year.
He said VSMMC is set to receive P170 million this year.
For Felix Laurel, the VSMMC’s services are satisfactory. His three-year-old grandson, who has an ailment in both legs, was admitted to the hospital, possibly for an operation, last Friday.
“Para sa mga purdoy ning ospitala mao nang dako nig ikatabang (This hospital is for the poor and it helps us a lot),” said the 50-year-old rattan weaver.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2013.