BACOLOR -- The Jose A. Datu Medical Center (JADMC) and Ricardo P. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in this town are now permanent surgical centers, which will take on indigent cleft clip and cleft palate palates from Pampanga and nearby Central Luzon provinces on a regular basis.

This was disclosed by Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF) president Benigno Ricafort during a press conference for the ongoing Operation Smile "Gift of Smiles" mega mission at JADMC here.

"So with a permanent cleft center, those who were unable to undergo surgery during a mission like that of our partner Operation Smile, can go to the JADMC, complemented by the Ricardo P. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital of the Provincial Government, every Thursday for the required medical attention," he said.

He said a new building being constructed near JADMC will house the prosthetics and cataract centers, while 17 rooms at the facility will be used to accommodate cleft lip and cleft palate patients. A cleft corrective surgery costs somewhere between P70,000 to P100,000.

"There are hundreds of cleft cases that have to be addressed. With these permanent centers, we aim to address those since everything will be for free. Kung kailangan naming sunduin ang pasyente kahit nasa bundok pa siya, we will do so. Together with our partners, KDF pursues its HELP (Health, Education and Livelihood Programs) advocacies to make lives of people better," Ricafort told Sun.Star Pampanga.

The centers, he furthered, will be manned by well-trained volunteer doctors and medical practitioners, which will be trained by Operation Smile Field Director and plastic surgeon Owen Loh.

On Monday, about 110 patients underwent reconstructive surgery at JADMC and the government owned and run Ricardo P. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, where the "Nanay Smile Program" of Capitol headed by Governor Lilia Pineda was launched.

The JADMC was built by the family of Jesus Datu as a memorial for their father, who wanted his family to build a hospital dedicated to the poor families of Pampanga. The Love for Life Foundation, a non-profit, US-based NGO, owns the JADMC. The Datu Angeles David Memorial Foundation (DADMFI), comprising the Datu, Angeles and David families of Pampanga, owns the land on which the hospital was built.

The JADMC is the primary vehicle for the KDF in implementing its health program as part of HELP. (JTD)