MANILA, Philippines – A military man is now at the helm of the San Juan Medical Center, San Juan City’s public hospital, as Mayor Francis Zamora seeks to “instill order and discipline” in the city’s healthcare delivery system.
On the eve of his 100th day in office, Zamora said in a Rappler Talk interview that he appointed Brigadier General Joseph Acosta as medical director of the San Juan Medical Center. He also shared this with San Juan citizens during his first State of the City Address on Tuesday, October 8.
Before this new post, Acosta served as commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) and as Chief of Medical Corps of the AFP.
Trained in plastic, reconstructive, burn, and aesthetic surgery, he has provided surgeries to children with cleft lip and palate cases, as well as victims of burns in Mindanao. He also worked extensively on post-Yolanda efforts, heading the medical clinic at San Jose Elementary School in Tacloban City, which was the biggest evacuation center in Tacloban then.
"He has vast experience not just as a doctor but also as a hospital administrator.... He handled 61 hospitals altogether. I chose a general to instill order and discipline in San Juan Medical Center," the mayor said of Acosta.
Zamora lamented the state in which the previous administration had left the public hospital. He said healthcare delivery through the hospital is hampered because of the unfinished P500-million renovation started by the previous government led by former ally Guia Gomez.
"Right now, we don't have a full laboratory, we don't have a dialysis center, we don't have rehabilitation centers, our operating room is in bad shape," Zamora said.
He also revealed that medical equipment worth P137 million had been delivered but were still in crates, untouched.
"During the first week of my term, these were still in crates, they were not even opened yet, and they were unused. How can you use them when the hospital is not yet complete and fully functional? We don't know if these equipment are really working and their warranty is already running," he said.
While services at San Juan Medical Center "remain to be incomplete," Zamora said San Juan citizens would be referred to the following private hospitals:
He added that the San Juan government is also pursuing public-private partnerships in order to improve the state of the city's public hospital. The mayor, however, has yet to give a timeline for the completion of the hospital's rehabilitation. – Rappler.com