Five years after the founding in 1911 of St. Paul’s Hospital in Iloilo (SPHI) in a converted warehouse, the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres set up an operating room with the most basic of equipment and instruments—and a most far-reaching vision. Today this essential and critical facility is almost a hundred years old, having continually undergone expansion and upgrading, making it as venerable as the hospital itself.
On Jan. 3, the SPHI operating room presented its most extensive makeover and upgrading yet. The new OR Complex (including delivery room and post-anesthetic care unit) was unveiled to the good Sisters after Sr. Zeta Caridad Rivero, SPC, the Superior Provincial, had cut the ribbon and Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of the Archdiocese of Iloilo had made his benediction with holy water.
New operating tables
Located on the second floor of the main hospital building and occupying 1,500 sq m floor area, the OR Complex consists of five major theaters and two day surgical rooms (one for ophthalmic surgeries). The operating theaters, which altogether occupy 850 sq m, boast new operating tables that are electronically operated with LED overhead operating lights, bacteriostatic vinyl floors, and centralized air-conditioning with hepa filters that cleanse the air of microbiological particles.
The state-of-the-art equipment was acquired “within certain affordability, at the moment,” says Sr. Rosamond Marie Abadesco, SPC, the hospital administrator. She explains: “For instance, we have the 16-slice CTScan and not the awesome 128-slice, which is way too expensive for the hospital and the patients. We are patient-friendly, we are not forgetting that service to the poor is our main concern.”
But while adopting new medical technologies with a rational and practical mind, SPHI is not compromising patient care. The OR Complex has the best medical equipment and instruments the Sisters’ funds and prayers could conjure and that the people of Iloilo and West Visayas truly deserve. In comparison with other tertiary hospitals in the provinces, SPHI has strong claims to having a kidney transplant team outside Metro Manila that has been treating patients for 10 years now.
It also has the Laparoscopic Institute, which, Dr. Amado Lavalle, chair of the department of surgery, says, “has been doing outstanding performance in minimally invasive surgeries for almost six years now, since we installed the most advanced MIS machines in Panay.”
The OR Complex has since been moved to the main building where it is now closer to the emergency room and imaging laboratories. It was designed to meet rising needs for OR traffic patterns, surgical support system, communication system and management information system.
“The complex is interconnected for maximum ease of movement and traffic,” Lavalle describes the floor plan, as executed by engineer Arnold Dupit and architect Anly Salido after thorough consultations with the medical staff.
A one-way mainstream corridor, in some areas skylighted by day to conserve energy, follows the contour of the walls from entrance to exit. The one-way traffic does away with collisions of wheelchairs and stretchers in the narrow passageway.
At the end of the corridor are two exits—one opens to the recovery room where there are 10 beds waiting, while another is meant for patients with infectious diseases.
Situated along this corridor, aside from the operating theaters, are the following: out-patient lounge and in-patient holding areas; male and female lounges; dressing rooms for surgeons; work and washing areas for cleaning instruments; and sterilization rooms.
Instead of a viewing gallery, there’s a computerized teleconference room where resident doctors and students can observe in close detail the ongoing work of surgeons. “We have resident and surgical trainees in the teleconference rooms,” says Sr. Rosamond, whose idea it was to set up the OR in the main building. “We are in fact a Level IV training hospital for doctors.”
Lavalle acknowledges the support system provided by medical and surgical ICUs. And then of course, there are the new equipment and diagnostic tools that the new operating theaters have proudly acquired. These include the Gen II Harmonic machine—the first in the city—that optimizes the use of ultrasonic waves to denature tissues to produce fine coagulation, thereby easing the surgeon’s operation and the patient’s healing. The ophthalmic room, meanwhile, features the up-to-date Infiniti Phacoemulsification machine and microscope with video systems.
“What all this means,” says OR supervisor Sr. Marvelyn Aquino, SPC, “is improved teamwork and coordination, increased efficiency and performance, and standardized surgical practices and guidelines.”
Part of the continuing modernization program for SPHI is its automation (as against mere computerization) of the hospital system. The new system now applies to general accounting, charging stations (as in OR, ICU, laboratory, nurse station, CT scan), medical records, purchasing office and inventories, says John Keith Castor, head of the SPHI hospital system and automation.
At the lobby on the ground floor, a user-friendly ID automation will answer patient and doctor inquiries about appointments, charges and so forth.
Automation, however, will not mechanize the pieties of the personnel and staff of SPHI, as well as their wards in their beds, who devoutly recite prayers five times a day—the Angelus at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., noontime and 3 p.m. prayers, and the 9 p.m. recitation of the therapeutic and mantric Rosary.
These moments of fervent prayer, Sr. Rosamond Marie Abadesco, SPC, says, can be as effective a healing procedure as the most modern OR apparatus. The ineffable, mysterious blend of religiosity and modern science that the hospital has espoused for a century has made St. Paul’s Hospital Iloilo the grand dame of medical institutions in Western Visayas.