Cariño: Baguio Connections 58

Baguio Stories

THIS week is about that surgeon who does maxillofacial reconstructive surgery.

As it turns out, he is actually related to the former student who had to have his face fixed. And while I respected said student’s request to withhold his name, I will have to take the liberty of naming the doctor who fixed his face.

No ego boosting involved here. Just credit where it is due, and a naming because it simply must be known that our own little town has within its boundaries such a one, trained in Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery.

Yes, a mouthful. What is it? The term “cranio-” means relating to the skull and “maxilla-facial” means relating to the jaws and face. Thus, Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery is a specialization that addresses the soft tissue and skeletal structure of the skull and face, including the jaws.

Most of the time, Cranio-Maxillofacial surgeons address and correct anomalies like a misshapen head, birthmarks that may later cause functional problems, a cleft lip, and such. And then there are other times, like when a face is literally smashed by an accident. So you see, the doctor here must be named.

Dr. Frederick Mars B. Untalan is the doctor who successfully reconstructed the face my last column was about. His training in Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery was earned as a Fellow at the Clinic for Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Basel, in Basel, Switzerland, in 2006. Take that.

The good doctor also has an MBA in Health Management (2012) from the place where these blue birds, uh, nest; yes.

We like all that. But we like more that Dr. Untalan is also homegrown, with both “pre-med” and “med proper” courses taken at Saint Louis University. Residency was at good ol’ Baguio General Hospital (BGH), where his current office also is. BGH is where yours truly underwent two successful surgeries in a lifetime, but thinking about them makes me weak, so let’s not go there. Doc’s clinic is at Notre Dame, where many of us were born. Did I mention homegrown?

We also like that the doctor has heart.

Asked about what he thinks Baguio’s biggest problem is, he says, “I always see that health accessibility (including health care promotion) and equitable health care remain the most challenging barriers that need to be addressed in our city. We have about five to seven medical hospitals within a radius of five kilometers, but when we go around barangays during health missions, we notice that health and hygiene are not their priority.

“They get sick of very preventable diseases. They don't go to the hospitals for proper medical evaluations due to economic reasons. Let’s hope that our city can innovate health policies that are unique to the people of Baguio and the rest of the Cordilleras.”

Dr. Untalan lauds the passing of the Universal Health Care Law but claims that we do not have wait for it to be realized and that “we need to start Health education now with the goal of making Health care a priority for every family.”

Well said.


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