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Southeast Asia’s 1st hybrid catheterization lab opens in Davao City

A state-of-the-art hybrid angio-CT catheterization laboratory (cathlab) is now readily available at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City to cater to procedures necessitating emergency responses and interventions, such as trauma, stroke, and massive organ bleeding.

The hybrid angio-CT cathlab facility, the first in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia, is a comprehensive solution for a diverse range of medical conditions.

SPMC’s Hybrid Angio-CT Catheterization Laboratory situated at the Southern Philippines Medical Center- Heart Institute. (PIA-XI)

It features the capability to serve adult cardio cases, such as coronary angiograms and angioplasties, pediatric cardio cases involving hemodynamic studies, vascular and interventional radiology procedures, and electrophysiology procedures.

The newly-inaugurated hybrid cathlab comes at a cost of P110 million. Another cathlab amounting to P75 million will be inaugurated on February 15, 2024.

SPMC chief, Dr. Ricardo B. Audan Jr., is optimistic that this newest addition to SPMC facilities will mark a significant milestone for the hospital and, more importantly, for the countless lives that will be touched by this state-of-the-art medical advancement that this facility brings.

"With state-of-the-art equipment and highly skilled healthcare workers, we are ready to take on the responsibilities that come with being recognized as a world-class, service-oriented apex hospital that is leading in the provision of healthcare for all Filipinos as stated in our vision," Audan said during the inauguration of the facility on February 8, 2024, at SPMC’s Heart Institute.

SPMC’s chief of clinics, Dr. Fitzgerald Arancel, said this hybrid angio-CT catheterization laboratory operates with three approaches to interventions for cases such as massive organ bleeding, tumors, and strokes.

Arancel cited, for instance, that intervention can be done to clog a vessel that is bleeding without significantly opening up the patient, saying, “Ultimately, it lessens (the bleeding) and there’s time for the patient to recover.”

SPMC chief, Dr. Ricardo B. Audan Jr., says that the inauguration of the facility aligns seamlessly with the eight-point agenda of the Department of Health, particularly the 3rd agenda on "Teknolohiya para sa Mabilis na Serbisyong Pangkalusugan." (PIA-XI)

For cancerous tumors, the catheterization process approaches the main blood vessel and injects a chemotherapeutic drug to shrink the tumor.

“It approaches tumors by shrinking it to the point that probably no surgery will be needed,” he explained, adding that tumor needs to be assessed in three-dimension (3D), which is one of the improved features of the facility.

The facility can also help patients who suffer a stroke (heart or brain attack) by addressing obstructions in the blood vessel or blood clot.

John Rey Sumayang shares with media his appreciation on the accessibility of the Hybrid Angio-CT Catheterization Laboratory at SPMC, which could avert a cancerous mass on his chest from getting worst. (PIA-XI)

Narrowing the gap of poverty

John Rey Sumayang, 24 years old, is holding hopes to the newly-inaugurated facility as he will be one of the first few patients to avail of the laboratory procedures to address a cancerous mass on his chest.

For Sumayang, the facility is heaven-sent as he will be availing of the needed procedures with no expense at all through the charity programs.

As an employee at SPMC’s housekeeping department, his salary could only support his studies as a sophomore at one of Davao’s colleges.

He could not also expect financial support from his father due to his meager earnings as a carpenter, and his mother is unemployed.

“Dako og tabang sa mga pasyente pareho nako. Naa na maayong machine nga dili na kinahanglan moadto sa laing lugar, ug dili na mogasto og dako,” Sumayang stated.

(This is a big help to patients like me. The machine is already available, so there’s no need to go to other places and no need to spend much)

Arancel emphasized that SPMC’s facilities are indeed top-of-the line and expensive, but its policy makes sure that all these facilities are available to people from all walks of life.  

“SPMC will narrow that gap of poverty by making all these facilities available, whether you’re rich, middle-income, or poor. We wanted to make sure that every Filipino is being taken care of, whether you’re financially capable or financially challenged,” he stressed.

He assured that the patients, especially the indigent or the low-income sectors, will not be burdened by the hospitalization expenses, as most if not all of the procedures are already earmarked for assistance.

Aside from the benefits from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), several charity programs are

SPMC’s chief of clinics, Dr. Fitzgerald Arancel during PIA's interview (PIA-XI)

available for hospitalization and medical assistance, such as the Medical Assistance to Indigents Program (MAIP), Davao City’s Lingap Para sa Mahirap, and the Malasakit Program.   

The facility is readily accessible at the Heart Institute building within SPMC’s compound in Davao City.

Arancel said that people from Mindanao may no longer travel to the Philippine Heart Center or to any other big institute in Manila or Cebu because the laboratory is “available for every Davaoeño and Mindanaoan.”

SPMC chief, Dr. Ricardo B. Audan Jr. (4th from right) is joined by Atty. Ron Villacampa (3rd from right), the legislative staff officer III of Sen. Bong Go; Erwin Lozano (2nd from left), the political affairs officer of Sen. Sonny Angara; and Dr. Maria Theresa Sanchez, section head of SPMC’s emergency radiology (right) with an SPMC patient due for cathlab services. (PIA-XI)

“This is not only intended for Davaoeños but the entire Mindanao. We are the lead DOH hospital in Mindanao. Anybody can avail of our facilities, as long as you are a Filipino, a Mindanaoan. Whether you are rich or poor. But we give emphasis to the indigents,” Audan said.

He also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the key proponents for materializing their dream project.

He thanked Senators Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara, and Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, for their unwavering support and commitment to improving health care programs, which resulted in innovative opportunities to address a variety of healthcare needs.

This achievement positions SPMC as an apex hospital, well-equipped and prepared for the challenges posed by the Universal Healthcare initiative. (CLC/PIA Davao)

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Carina Cayon

Regional Editor

Region 11

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