The doctor is in, and he means business
Dr. Alfredo Bengzon remembers a particular meeting with the late industrialist Eugenio Lopez Jr. in the mid-1990s in great detail.
Bengzon—the head of The Medical City (TMC)—had been scouting for a new site for the well-known hospital because it sorely needed room to grow and the old location at the corner of San Miguel Ave. and Lourdes St. in Ortigas Center could no longer accommodate his dreams.
“I got a call from Meralco (which was then controlled by the Lopez family), they invited me to breakfast and they said: ‘We understand you’re looking for a new site.’”
“Yes,” replied Bengzon who, for some time had already been going around the Pasig, Mandaluyong and Ortigas areas looking for an ideal location where he can set up the new Medical City compound—something that would take the hospital into the next century.
Lopez replied: “Well, we have this place and we are thinking of doing a Rockwell on it,” referring to the plan to convert a portion of the sprawling Meralco property in Pasig City into a mixed-use development, but this time with a world-class hospital as its anchor tenant.
“How much?” Bengzon asked. “Maybe we can’t afford it.”
“We can talk about it,” Lopez replied, insisting that what would become the present day complex of TMC be at least four hectares big.
By the second meeting, Bengzon had proposed that the complex house a medical school where the country’s future doctors are to be trained according to the highest international standards.
“And what do you think if that medical school is Ateneo?” Bengzon added, exciting Lopez, who replied: “Let’s do it.”
“Why did I say that?” Bengzon now muses. “Did I have any authorization [from the school]? None.”
But he was confident he could make it happen because he was passionate about his profession and about helping the country.
Today, Bengzon’s system called The Medical City Clinic (TMCC) marks its 18th year with 30 industry-leading clinics designed to bring healthcare closer to Filipino families in Metro Manila and key cities outside the capital.
“Unlike most Philippine hospitals which operate as stand-alone facilities, The Medical City’s delivery platforms are a network of tertiary and secondary hospitals and clinics providing healthcare services in an ambulatory setting,” said Bengzon, who is TMC president and CEO.
“Our flagship facility in Ortigas, Pasig, has close to 50 years of experience in hospital operation and serves some 40,000 inpatients and 400,000 out-patients annually. TMC-Iloilo houses the region’s only Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. By January 2015, TMC-Clark will open its doors to patients in Central and Northern Luzon. This year, under The Medical City Clinic brand, we bring to 30 the number of our ambulatory clinics networked over Metro Manila,” he added.
Central to TMC’s service philosophy are new paradigms of hospital care addressing the entire continuum of health needs, and the patient as an equal, informed and empowered partner in the pursuit and preservation of health.
Today, through its proven ‘hub and spoke’ model, The Medical City Clinic network brings this “patient as partner” brand of healthcare to families in strategic locations, far beyond its original geographic reach which included Pasig, Rizal, San Juan and Antipolo.
With each clinic run by medical professionals, and over 470 doctors within the network, TMCC is today the leader in shaping healthcare, both in an in-patient and outpatient setting, with each clinic designed to provide the full range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.
At the heart of the network’s expansion is a sincere desire to promote and enable better health care.
“Opening up clinics in more locations means we are able to serve more people, heal more families, and provide better health to more communities,” said Dr. Mariann M. Almajar, the medical director for Professional Health Services Inc. (Proser), which manages the clinic network.
“Today, the Medical City Clinic is proud to be the preferred health network of retailers, HMOs and patients,” she said, “From a single branch in the ’90s, it has grown to become a medical luminary in the Philippine health industry today—by bringing state-of-the-art medical equipment, engaging top caliber specialists, retaining competent response teams, employing excellent doctors, professionals, managers and staff, enjoying extensive alliances with retail mall chains, harnessing strategic partnerships with HMOs, and by providing the best ambulatory medical service to patients.”
Into the next 18 years, TMCC is committed to continue to bring quality medical service closer to the people.
Services have expanded to address patients’ changing needs to include ophthalmology, minor surgery, dialysis, CT scan and mammogram.
New clinic formats were introduced to cater to growing segments of the market such as the Lifestyle and Wellness Clinic at Timog Avenue in Quezon City, which offers lifestyle interventions and diabetes care to include diabetes screening, nutrition counseling, diagnostic services, and Endocrinologist and Nephrologist consultation.
All these encourage families to make that shift from the hospital to the closest The Medical City Clinic as their partner in holistic and preventive family health care.
Bengzon describes the present day as “the era of ambulatory healthcare.”
It is a combination of the best practices in medicine, married with the best practices in business and management.
And Bengzon knows whence he speaks, having shepherded TMC through its dark days (financially speaking) when it was just starting out in the 1960s, through another difficult time (again, financially speaking) soon after the hospital’s new P5-billion Pasig complex was inaugurated over a decade ago.
In his many years as a doctor, public servant (serving as President Corazon Aquino’s health secretary) and a businessman, he knows that the key to seeing his vision of a healthier Filipino prosper is bringing together the best practices from all these sectors.
“In information technology, they will tell you that ‘integration’ is the Holy Grail,” he said,” When you reflect on it, that’s also the secret to good health. Because the human body has many systems, they have to work in harmony all the time.”
Wise words from a wise doctor.
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