Boosting Cebu’s medical tourism bid
The ongoing P500-million upgrade of six hospitals under the Cebu Doctors’ Group (CDG) of Hospitals is expected to give Cebu’s bid to become a medical tourism destination a needed boost.
This developed as the Cebu Doctors’ Group of Hospitals enters a new chapter in serving the Visayas community under its new president and chairman of the board, Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III.
Larrazabal revealed his plans to 450 attendees during his installation ceremony at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino last Saturday.
The six hospitals to receive the renovations and improvements, which is targeted to be completed in the next three to four years are Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital (CDUH), Mactan Doctors’ Hospital, SouthGen Doctors’ Hospital (SGH), NorthGen Doctors’ Hospital (NGH) Ormoc Doctors’ Hospital and the San Carlos Doctors’ Hospital.
Larrazabal succeeded his father, Dr. Potenciano “Jun” Larrazabal Jr., who established Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital in 1972. The older Larrazabal passed away late June of this year.
Although the younger Larrazabal, an eye surgeon, is not new to the hospital management business, he still made sure to visit each hospital and examined them “inside out and top to bottom” to find out their needs and concerns.
“I emphasized that each hospital be independent and avoid, as much as possible, referrals to the mother hospital, CDUH. I want to bring local back to local,” he said.
Dr. Clarissa Jane Pe, vice chairperson of the Cebu Health and Wellness Council, Inc. (CHWC), cited in a Cebu Daily News interview early this year that tertiary hospitals such as the CDUH is one of the reasons why Cebu is in advantageous spot to become a medical tourism destination.
Pe said then that the facilities and equipment here are at par with anywhere else, and the doctors are trained internationally.
She defined medical tourism as a tourism that provides tourists opportunities to improve their health, while they are here.
She said that it is a tourism associated with medical and dental care, sickness and well-being and rehabilitation and recuperation.
She also cited Cebu being a top destination for international tourists as another factor to boost its bid to become a medical tourism destination.
But she said the country, having most of the services and facilities offered in Western countries and Asia at 50 to 70 percent less than the prices of other countries offering the same services, is what makes PH attractive as a medical tourism destination.
Services and facilities that the Cebu Doctors’ Group of Hospitals are mostly offering and improving are shown by their planned and ongoing hospitals upgrade.
At the hospital where “it all started” and where Larrazabal currently practices, he said renovations are ongoing which included putting up air conditioning units in the lobby and adding new elevators.
New and independent centers will be launched such as the Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery and Men’s Health and Pelvic Center.
“We are currently negotiating for a PET scan and a bigger Hyperbaric Chamber. Cebu’s first Minimally Invasive Surgery Center will be expanded with new guidelines and instrumentation,” he said.
New equipment such as beds and lights will be added to the operating room while rates are being lowered to answer the need and reach a broader spectrum of the community.
He also encouraged department heads to set up fellowship programs.
“I believe what sets us apart from the rest is that we are a teaching hospital. Young doctors who learned from us and became successful are our pride,” said Larrazabal.
The quarters of the residents, interns and post-graduate interns will be expanded. A nearby property will be cleared to make way for additional parking.
SGH in Naga City will house Cebu’s first Trauma Center at a vacant property located beside the existing hospital. The center will have its own C-arm X-ray and minor operating room. It will have a helipad.
This is in response to the growing number of trauma cases in the hospital but are “always referred to Cebu City.”
Larrazabal said the hemodialysis center will be relocated to a larger area at the basement and is envisioned to be the largest hemodialysis center in Visayas and Mindanao.
Larrazabal said CDG is addressing the shortage of nurses by turning SGH as the pilot site of a one-year nursing aide program which will be accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and will be guaranteed work in the hospital.
The number of students is yet to be finalized but Larrazabal noted that half of them will be scholars of his mother, Zenaida Sto.Domingo-Larrazabal.
Cebu’s first mother and child center will be established at the NorthGen Doctors’ Hospital located in Barangay Talamban, Cebu City.
One hospital wing will be dedicated for this center housing labor and delivery rooms and separate OB and pediatric wards, said Larrazabal.
It will have one of the cheapest maternity packages in Cebu.
Plans are on the way to set up a charity plastic surgery center which will serve the needs of people with cleft lip and clef palate. The hospital will partner with charitable organizations to carry out this form of community service.
The rehabilitation facility for substance abusers will be upgraded with a garden and additional gym and sports facilities.
Mactan Doctors’ Hospital has maintained its 90% occupancy rate through its 22-decade of operations.
Larrazabal said a medical arts building will be built at the back of the hospital.
The front structures will be remodeled to house a modern edifice that will include a 24-hour concierge to cater to the needs of neighboring resorts and companies located in the Mactan export processing zones.
Ormoc & San Carlos
In Ormoc, the hometown of the Larrazabal clan, a medical arts center will be available for doctors, while existing doctors’ clinics will be utilized as rehabilitation, eye, endoscopy and laparoscopic centers.
Larrazabal said the number of private rooms at the San Carlos Doctors’ Hospital in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental will be doubled as they are always fully occupied. The website of Private Hospitals’ Association of the Philippines, Inc. listed the hospital with 50 beds.
“I have already reactivated the operating room complex. We will try to invite more specialists to practice there as it is a beautiful place,” he said.
Larrazabal also announced the connectivity of the six hospitals via a software program that will provide each patient with a card containing all his records which can be accessed by doctors in all six hospitals.
He said the card provides discounts for patients in all CDG hospitals. X-ray lab results and other examinations can be viewed by all doctors “anytime, anywhere.”
“They can see it on their tablets, phones, laptops. Patients’ records can be referred to specialists easily. Of course, patients’ records will be secured and encrypted,” said Larrazabal.
CebuDoc Group of Hospitals has a new logo depicting seven crosses with different colors. The logo represents the six hospitals and their unique qualities.
Larrazabal said the seventh cross represents the seventh hospital which he envisions to rise in the northern part of Cebu within the next five years.
A CDG Tower is also being planned to rise in the area where CDUH is located.