THE First Alumni Homecoming of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) Department of Surgery is a testimony to the ability of the local medical community to grow and nurture its own.
With a training program for general surgeons first established in 1980 when Dr. Jose Tiongco was appointed chair of the department of what was then the Davao Medical Center (DMC).
There was no training program before that and Dr. Tiongco came fresh from a scholarship in Vienna.
“It was a department in name only, there was really no training program. People were saying why are you going home, (President Ferdinand) Marcos is there and I said the reason I’m going home is because there’s Marcos,” Tiongco said in an interview during the homecoming.
Before that, he was a volunteer consultant of the hospital from 1976 TO 1977.
At that time, there was only one wing housing the Department of Surgery, Medicine, Obstetrics, and Pediatrics, the so-called major departments.
When he arrived, the consultants were the ones operating on the patients, while the residents merely assisted.
What was going on there at that time was more like a consultants’ training program where the consultants “were training themselves on our patients”.
“Whatever they mishandled outside in the private hospitals, after mahurot na ang kwarta (when the patients’ money runs out) and all the complications come in, they would go to DMC and die there and say, ‘Kaya ka namatay’,” Tiongco said, with public medical service suffering the brunt.
They simply had to stop the practice, and face the problem head-on.
“So when we would find a patient who was mishandled financially and physically and the patient died, we called a meeting, in a conference and we discussed this patient in front of everybody in the surgical community. They stopped doing it. They were put to shame,” he said.
From there, they built their training program, which was accredited by the Philippine College of Surgeons. He also broke up the department to give…