Feature: Modern state-run hospital boosts Pangasinan as wellness center

he Region 1 Medical Center (R1MC) has come a long way, decades after it started as a provincial hospital in 1925, relocated to various sites when the Second World War broke in 1941, and was wrecked by a powerful earthquake in 1990.

Now considered a premiere medical center north of Manila, the center boasts of a modern emergency room. It was President Aquino no less who opened the P23-million facility that consists of an animal bite center, quarantine area, a radiology section, operating rooms, and a delivery room among others.

A state-run hospital, the facility is on its way to meeting the challenges of global standardization and hoping to bag the International Office for Standardization (ISO) seal with its upgrading program.

The facility’s operation and that of other hospitals and clinics boost Pangasinan’s status as the center for wellness in the Ilocos Region for having the most number of medical facilities.

The R1MC reached another milestone when it performed, together with the National Kidney Transplant Institute, a six-hour kidney transplant operation, upgrading it as an organ transplant facility.

Additionally, the center hopes to become a cancer treatment facility to honor the late President Corazon Aquino, who succumbed to the disease in 2010.

The R1MC, originally known as the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital, was built in 1925 by the late Governor Teofilo Sison who donated portion of the lot where the hospital was erected. Initially, it had a 50-bed capacity that later expanded to 75 with subsequent change in hospital administration.

In 1941, expecting the landing of Japanese forces from Lingayen Gulf when the Second World War broke out in the Pacific, the provincial government transferred to Tayug town, forcing the hospital to also transfer there. From there, it moved successively to the towns of Lupao, Talavera, and Gapan, all in Nueva Ecija, ending up as far as Sta. Maria in Bulacan.

After the war, under the American Regime, the provincial hospital returned to Pangasinan and re-opened at its new site in Arellano where it stands to this day.

Bed capacity has increased to 150 by 1949

The hospital was to integrate the field health services (preventive medicine) and the hospital services (curative medicine) when the national government re-organized the Department of Health in 1977.

The upgrading of the hospital hit a snag when Northern Luzon was hit by the magnitude-7 killer quake in 1990, leaving the hospital and several business establishments, school buildings, bridges and national roads in ruins.

Rehabilitation was immediately initiated through the efforts of then House Speaker Jose de Venecia, who prompted the late President Corazon Aquino to provide funds for the reconstruction of the city including the hospital.

The provincial hospital was renamed Region 1 Medical Center in 1997.

At present, the hospital serves patients not only from Region 1 but also from the provinces of Tarlac and Zambales.

Being a Level IV tertiary hospital, R1MC is considered the premiere medical center north of Manila.

Aside from its primary function, the center also serves as referral hospital for several medical facilities in and outside the region. It also serves as training ground for students who are eyeing a medical career.

Recently, the center has been experiencing massive upgrading through funds from the national government and from hospital profits.

More than a year ago, a satellite center was opened in Barangay Bonuan Binloc to serve as a rehabilitation center.

At present, an earthquake-proof 11-storey building is set for construction to increase the hospital’s bed capacity to 1,500. The P1.6-billion structure is targeted for completion by 2015.

An additional P458-million, six-storey medical arts building will be built simultaneously.

Through these expansions, funded primarily by the national government, the R1MC is on its way to reaching global competitiveness offering a universal health care for ordinary folks. (PIA-Pangasinan/R1MC)

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Pangasinan is national awardee for rice achievement

PANGASINAN, Mar 23 (PIA) — The province reaped another honor when it was awarded by the Department of Agriculture as among the country’s top 10 rice producers for 2012.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala conferred the plaque of recognition and P4-million worth of agricultural projects to Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. during the 2nd Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Awards held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Alcala said the award, led by the DA through its national rice program, is the Aquino government’s way of thanking the country’s rice farmers and their respective provincial and municipal officials and agricultural extension workers (AEWs) for their continuing efforts and contribution in achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2013 and will be sustained until 2016 and beyond.

The Provincial Information Office reported that for 2012, Pangasinan was able to produce 1.133 million metric tons of rice in 2012 which accounts for 65% of the total rice produced in Region I or the third largest producer of rice in the country.

This volume of production can be attributed to the various agricultural programs and projects of the province that includes the “Accelerated Certified Seeds Production and Distribution Program” in cooperation with the Abono Partylist and the distribution of water pumps to members of farmers’ association to avert or mitigate the effect of El Niño and intensified irrigation development efforts among others.

The establishment of the Rice Processing Complex during the last quarter of 2011 also boosted rice production and farmer’s income as it improved rice quality and reduce post-harvest losses. The P190-million state-of-the-art milling facility was funded by the Korea International Cooperating Agency (KOICA), DA, and the Province of Pangasinan, the PIO report said.

Aside from Pangasinan, the local governments of Manaoag and Sta. Maria were also among the 50 outstanding municipalities which received plaque of recognition and cash reward of P1-million each in the form of agricultural projects.

Three agricultural extension workers (AEW) from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and 18 AEWs from 15 municipalities and three cities of Pangasinan were also feted as outstanding agricultural extension workers. Each awardee received a plaque of recognition and P20,000 cash incentive. (MCA/VHS/PIA1-Pangasinan with reports from PIO)

Paoay’s Jardin de San Agustin: A place to visit this Holy Week

PAOAY, Ilocos Norte, March 24 (PIA) — The municipality of Paoay opened a prayer garden for pilgrims visiting the Paoay Church especially during the Holy Week.

Called “Jardin de San Agustin,” the garden is built beside the church where a multipurpose building and the priest’s official house used to stand.

The buildings had to be abolished two years ago to create a buffer zone around the Paoay Church as required by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in world heritage site buildings.

In 1993, the Paoay Church, also known as the San Agustin Church, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of Baroque churches in the Philippines.

Realizing that no permanent structures can be built beside the church, the provincial government and the municipality of Paoay joined in constructing the Jardin de San Agustin.

Interestingly, Saint Agustine’s conversion to Christianity took place in a garden in 387 A.D.

The Jardin de San Agustin has a spiritual dimension and serves not only as prayer garden but also as a teaching module on the life of Saint Agustin from his childhood to his conversion to Christianity until his death, according to Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba.

The garden was designed by local landscape artists and the plants used in the garden are all indigenous plants of Ilocos Norte.

The garden will also pave the way for the revival of endemic horticulture of the province. (MCA/APT-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)

San Juan summer fun kicks off with fun run

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Mar 24 (PIA) — Organizers of Summer Break, an annual tourism event, will kick off this year’s campaign with a fun run on March 28 for the benefit of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Event organizer San Juan Beach Resorts Association was inspired by the success of the Million Volunteer Run that the PNRC led recently that it planned to open the week-long event with a fun run.

Lawyer Rodolfo Yabes, association president, said the event was made worthwhile by involving humanitarian causes through the PNRC.

“Big events such as these usually commence with a fun run. We hope to generate funds for the Red Cross benefit while promoting health and wellness,” Yabes said.

Now on its third year, Summer Break is the association’s tourism pitch for San Juan as the surfing capital in Northern Philippines and bring in more tourists during the Lenten break.

Organizers said San Juan offers a refuge for tourists coming from nearby Manila who want to pause from the daily pressures of urban work by spending time to reflect and bond with their families during the Lenten season.

The event offers sports activities, pageant, surfing lessons and night parties.

The PNRC, using funds that will be raised from the fun run, will organize a lifeguarding course for the members of La Union Surf Club to enhance their rescue and lifesaving skills.

The course offered to locals will also minimize drowning incidents which are prevalent during summer where most people take to the beach.

The fun run offers a five-kilometer run which will start at the city plaza and end at Sebay Surf Resort. The three-kilometer run will start at San Juan plaza and end at the same resort.

With a minimal registration fee of P250 and P300 for the 3K and 5K categories, respectively, runners will be able to obtain their singlet, race bib and finisher’s certificate.

Prizes will be given to top three runners from each category. Runners may contact PRC La Union – San Fernando City Chapter through Tel.Nos. (072) 700-5161 or (072) 607-3143. (MCA/MBR-PIA 1 La Union with reports from PRC/ Hedrich Calderon)

DPWH engineers brush up on quality control skills for public projects

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Mar 24 (PIA) — Pursuant to the Aquino administration’s “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path) policy, the public works department has gathered its field engineers to a workshop to ensure that public projects are above standards.

Called the quality assessment workshop, field engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways went through a series of sessions that would improve strategies in quality control and construction procedures.

Esperanza Tinaza, DPWH public relations officer II, said 128 project engineers (PEs) and quality assurance engineers (QAEs) from the region and different district offices attended the sessions.

She said the participants are directly involved in public works and are accountable when the project fails to meet standards.

“They check the materials or equipment to be used in all the stages of project implementation. They inspect construction works until the project is (fully) implemented,” Tinaza added.

She said the field engineers also determine whether the project contractor is capable of completing the construction project.

Some of the sessions included: phases of materials quality control measures, construction procedures, procedures in the implementation of various issuances, policies and guidelines and determining the positive and negative factors affecting project implementation in the region.

The sessions are expected to improve the rating of the regional DPWH in the areas of quality control systems and procedures.

The assessment workshop was conducted in three batches. The first was last February 5-6, the second batch was in February 7-8 and third last February 21-22. (MCA/MPA – PIA1, La Union)

SSS offers loan assistance to support children’s education

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Mar 24 (PIA) — Qualified members of the Social Security System who face difficulty in sending their children to school may get an educational assistance of up to P15,000 per semester.

Francis Pentecostes, SSS assistant branch head, said members with a monthly income of P15,000 may apply for the SSS educational assistance loans provided they have up-to-date payments of previous SSS loans and at least 36 monthly contributions.

The loan can be granted to the SSS member, his/her legal spouse or dependent children who wish to finish a complete four-year college education program or pursue vocational courses.

A member with a monthly income of P10,000 and below can also avail of the education assistance.

In case of single members, they can designate their siblings and other immediate family members as beneficiaries.

Students who will be pursuing degree courses can loan up to P15,000 while the technical vocational can be given up to P7,500 per semester.

Pentecostes said the SSS only requires the member to submit the enrollment form and receipt of tuition fee paid.

The loan program offers an easy payment scheme since payment will only start a year after the child graduates with an annual interest rate of only three percent.

According to SSS, members can repay the loan within five years for college courses and three years for voc-tech programs. (MCA/MHH PIA1 La Union)

Tagalog news: Heritage City ng Vigan, pinaigting ang kampanya laban sa kahirapan

LUNGSOD NG VIGAN, Marso 19 (PIA) — Pinaigting ng pamahalaang lungsod ang kampanya laban sa kagutoman at kawalan ng hanap-buhay bilang tugon sa adhikain ng “Millennium Developmenmt Goals” (MDG’s) ng United Nations na labanan ang kahirapan.

Ayon kay Mayora Eva Medina, inilunsad ang “Raniag ti Masakbayan” (Ilaw ng Kinabukasan) program para matulungan ang mga taga-Vigan na walang hanap-buhay na nagmula sa mga itinuturing na “poorest of the poor” para mapaunlad ang kanilang pamumuhay.

Sinabi ng alkalde na natuturuan ang mga “out-of-school youths’ ng mga skills training tungkol sa cosmetology o pagmi-make-up, hair dressing o pag-aayos ng buhok, pagluluto, pagkakarpintero, pagwewelding, pagmemekaniko, kaalaman sa spa at reflexology sa Vigan Training Center sa pakikipagtulongan din ng Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

Sinabi ni Medina na napagkalooban pa ng tool kits ang mga trainees pagkatapos ng kanilang pagsasanay para mabuo nila ang sariling negosyo sa siyudad o di kaya’y nabibigyan sila ng puhunan para sa pagpapatayo ng negosyo tulad ng sari-sari store o maliit na karinderya.

May mga ama ng tahanan na napagkalooban pa ng tricycle na pangpasada kabilang na ang libreng prangkisa nito at puhunan sa pagtitinda ng fish ball na malaking tulong sa kanilang pamilya, sinabi pa ni Mayor Medina.

Ang City Social Welfare Office na pinamumunuan ni Celie Agcamaran ang pumili at nagrekomenda sa mga beneficiaries mula sa mga pinakamaralitang pamilya sa bawat barangay sa siyudad maliban pa sa mga natulungan ng 4 P’s (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program).

Mula nang mailunsad ang programa noong 2010, nababawasan na ang bilang ng mga maralitang pamilya sa lungsod na tinatayang siyam na porsyento na lamang ang natitira at posibleng mabawasan pa hanggang 2015.

“Hindi lamang nakatuon sa turismo o kalakalan ang mga programa ng pamahalaang lungsod sa Heritage City kundi naka-focus din ito sa pagpapaunlad ng pamumuhay ng mga kababayan nating mahihirap,” sinabi pa ng alkalde.

Ang Vigan, dating “Ciudad Fernandina” na nakaukit na sa World Heritage List ng UNESCO, ay naparangalan na ng mga sumusunod: “Best Practices in Heritage Conservation”; “Seal of Good Housekeeping” o “Pamana ng Lahi,” national award ng Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); at Best child–friendly city ng Pilipinas. (MCA/BPP-PIA1, Ilocos Sur)