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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