Mindanao's only mental facility is among the country’s best

FOR the past decades, the Southern Philippines Medical Center-Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine (SPMC-IPBM) commonly known as the Davao Mental Hospital (DMH) has successfully positioned itself as the premier psychiatric center in Mindanao and now gearing to be a world-class mental health facility.

In an interview with the SPMC-IPBM Admin officer and ward administrator Grace Bernardo, she shared that the IPBM has envisioned itself as a “dynamic and sustainable government hospital facility that delivers mental health services through holistic and efficient management patient care.”

The institution, which is the only government mental health facility in Mindanao, guarantees to deliver top of the line services and other essentials for its patients to recover from their psychological illness and strive harder to serve them through their mental health expertise.

“We are committed to develop and deliver the quality services at the lowest cost because of the government subsidy. But even if it is affordable, the quality of care for mental health is at par with the international standards,” Bernardo said.

Currently, the SPMC-IPBM is undergoing several improvements and upgrade of its facilities and equipment considering the medical advances to address the growing demand of the public for mental health services. These developments are seen to pave way for an inclusive access to mental health care services for all.

The construction of a modern two-storey female ward is now ongoing while the P23-million male ward is already in the pipeline and subject for bidding.

Another two-storey building is now being worked out by the SPMC-IPBM, which will be the Outpatient Department worth P32 million. This is designed to be used as treatment hub of outpatients or people with mental health problems who visit the hospital for diagnosis.

Bernardo noted that one of the most challenging moments that the mental facility encountered was when their original structure was gutted down by fire in May 2013. The accident forced them to put up a makeshift office under a tree while making sure that they were still able to serve the patients.

Tracing its history, the hospital was built in 1918 as the Davao Public Hospital, a sick ward for “sakadas” or laborers. During World War II, it was garrisoned by the Japanese Imperial Army and served as a United States Army hospital in 1945 with only fifty-bed capacity. It was recognized by the city as one of the historical landmarks.

The Department of Health released an order in 1958 for the construction of the Davao General Hospital as a training center and the construction of the Davao Regional and Medical Center now SPMC.

In 1980, the government allotted funds to transform the old building into a separate and distinct DMH.

“Since then until present time, IPBM plays a crucial role in mental health care delivery, not only as a service provider but for training and research as well. These are in tandem with advocacy for prevention and destigmatization of mental illness and mental health programs both in the workplace and the community,” their profile read.

The center is situated at the 2.2 hectares facility along the J.P Laurel Avenue, Davao City, which is 5 kilometers away from the main hospital.

The SPMC-IPBM has 200-bed capacity and as much as possible they regulate the admission of patients by thoroughly subjecting them for a screening to avoid congestion and to deliver services that the patients deserve.

It is the first and only mental health facility outside Metro Manila with an accredited Residency Training Program in Psychiatry since 1992.
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