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THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

On February 11, 1945, the Philippine Civilian Assistance Unit, a relief agency, later placed under the Emergency Civilian Administration (ECA) established an Indigent Children’s Clinic in the building of the defunct Bureau of Public Welfare at San Rafael Street, Manila, under the leadership of Dr. Victoria Kalaw-Linan to take care of the war refugees, the sick and undernourished children. This was the humble beginning of what blossomed to become what people now recognize as the National Children’s Hospital. With the abolition of the ECA, the Clinic became part of the Social Welfare Commission.

By virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 705 in October 1945, the Indigent Children’s Clinic attained its hospital status as the Indigent Children’s Hospital and in December of the same year, Dr. Peregrino H. Paulino was designated Chief of the Hospital. This event can be spoken of as the turning point. From its temporary quarters at San Rafael Street, the hospital was transferred to a two-storey house at 715 Gastambide Street, Sampaloc, Manila in 1947. This building, however, proved inadequate for the fast growing hospital. And being at the commercial hub of Manila, the danger of fire became an ever increasing threat. The locale itself was far from ideal. The Director, Dr. Peregrino H. Paulino, in his intense desire and ambition to see a better and modern hospital solicited the help of former Secretaries of Health as well as the officials of the executive and legislative branches of the government. This effort saw its reward when the late President Elpidio Quirino issued Presidential Proclamation No. 439 assigning the Mori Bicycle Compound at España Extension in Quezon City to be the future site of the Indigent Children’s Hospital.

In 1952, Republic Act No. 731 changed the name of Indigent Children’s Hospital to NATIONAL INDIGENT CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. Republic Act 948, in 1953, was passed appropriating funds for the construction of the hospital building. Subsequently, Republic Act No. 1340, dated June 16, 1955 amended Republic Act No. 731 changing the name of National Indigent Children’s Hospital to its present name –The NATIONAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL.

July 28, 1955 shines out as a memorable day for the National Children’s Hospital for it was on that day that the cornerstone of the new building was laid. The construction of the building started in December, 1955. Finally, on April 26, 1958, the first modern hospital building of the National Children’s Hospital was inaugurated.

On July 1, 1960, Dr. Jose C. Joven was appointed as Chief of the Hospital. He ordered the landscaping of the grounds and the regular painting of the buildings. Aside from the improvements in the physical facilities of the hospital, the professional and service areas were given top priority. During his tenure, the hospital expanded even more. The hospital services offered was proof that the organization can stand side by side with other leading medical centers during that time.

One aspect of hospital development which also deserves mention is the Nutritional Rehabilitation Program where the Malnutrition Ward gained much attention. Grants for graduate studies along this line were obtained allowing some of its doctors to further studies abroad.

In August of 1976, the administration of the hospital changed hands with the appointment of Dr. Cristina de Joya-Agregado as the incoming Chief. Under her management, the organizational structure of the hospital was at once reviewed and revised. The objectives of the hospital were fashioned to jive with the over-all thrust of the “New Society” under the Marcos administration. The increasing number of patients found the need to increase the hospital’s bed capacity. Thus, in 1977, an additional 3rd floor of the main building was constructed. Subspecialty care units were established including the Intensive Care Unit, Neonatology Unit and a Surgical Unit. The hospital slowly became recognized also as a training hospital, thus, the increased number of student affiliates. The Pediatric Residency Training Program started and was accredited by the Philippine Pediatric Society as Phase I and II in 1981.

April 16, 1988 marked a new era in the history of National Children’s Hospital when Dr. Ma. Isabelita S. Vital-Gozon assumed the position of Medical Center Chief. Armed with enthusiasm and extraordinary vitality, Dr. Gozon did not waste any time and started propelling the hospital towards the vision of becoming an excellent “Center of Wellness”. The chief faced the challenges head-on and for more than a decade, NCH has steadily grown and evolved to become an institution whose noble mission is to ease the suffering of children from malnutrition, the dreaded respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases and other chronic diseases like tuberculosis, leukemia and others. NCH became known for its Hydrocephalus Center hence referrals from all over the country were being served. Also under Dr. Gozon’s administration, working conditions including a clean, orderly physical surroundings and supportive employees have become commonplace, giving everyone a chance to work with an elevated morale. Some of the physical upgrading of the hospital facilities were the installation of the communication facilities, renovation of the conference rooms and improvement of water system of the hospital. A 1000 square meter lot adjacent to the hospital was acquired to give way for the future expansion of its services. The upgrading of training and continuing education was also given special attention. Postgraduate Course in Pediatrics started in 1991, then was conducted annually chaired by the department’s competent consultants.

In February 2002, Dr. Marieta R. Siongco was appointed as the new Chief of Hospital. Under her leadership, Total Quality Management (TQM) Program was organized and launched. This became a priority program for the hospital. Quality Circle Teams were created in all services and departments. Weekly TQM meetings were conducted to review, write and standardize various processes. This empowered the workers to actually evaluate and improve on their own work processes.

In September 18, 2006, Dr. Robert Enriquez became the new Medical Center Chief. During this time the hospital was at the forefront thrust of DOH towards ensuring quality assurance and patient safety in hospitals under the stewardship of the Secretary of Health, Francisco T. Duque III. With this thrust, the entire hospital under the guidance and direction of TQM, worked together and achieved the “Center of Excellence” accreditation from PHILHEALTH on July 10, 2010. The National Children’s Hospital became the first government hospital to achieve the highest accreditation given by PHILHEALTH which is valid from May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013.

Under Dr. Enriquez’s headship, construction of a new six-story medical arts building(Building 4) with an estimated cost of Php 119,000,000.00 was started in the 1000 sq. meter vacant lot. This new building will provide new space for the following: Outpatient Department, Doctor’s Clinics, Dental Services, Imaging Services such as X-ray, CT Scan, Pharmacy Complex and additional patient wards and training rooms. Other areas of the hospital in the older buildings were improved and renovated to provide a better environment of care for the patients and for the staff as well. The following were done such as repainting of the interior of all the wards, façade of the hospital and all exterior, asphalt overlay of the parking lot, renovation of OPD waiting area, re-roofing of the 7th floor Building 3), improvement of the Multipurpose Conference Hall sound system,upgrading of the PABX System and improvement of other offices.

Hospital programs and trainings were further strengthened by upgrading quality training of pediatric residents and other hospital staff. The continued medical education through postgraduate courses and daily conferences are already institutionalized. The Pediatric Residency Training Program accredited by the Philippine Pediatric Society was upgraded to Level III and a Fellowship Program in Pediatric Surgery was started. New hospital programs/services were started such as the Touch Therapy Institute (first of its kind in the Philippines), Drug Dependent Treatment and Rehabilitation for minors and the strengthening of the Tuberculosis Control Program through the Public-Private Mix Directly Observed Therapy Short Course (PPMD-DOTS). Cardiac Surgeries for congenital heart defects were also started. Networking and collaboration with donors was strengthened providing the hospital with expensive medical equipment like the Neuroendoscope and Heart-Lung Machine.

Due to the untimely demise of Dr. Enriquez, a new Medical Center Chief, who is also the former Chief of Medical Professional Staff, Dr. Epifania S. Simbul took over the headship of the NCH on June 1, 2011 up to the present time. Under Dr. Simbul’s leadership, the hospital continued its pursuit of continuously improving all facets of hospital operations.

Working further on or enhance the previous achievements, the hospital staff continued to work to sustain and deliver excellent patient care. In the first year of Dr. Simbul’s term, the hospital received the RED ORCHID AWARD, the highest award given to institutions for the efforts in maintaining 100 % Tobacco Free Environment, GOLD AWARD for OSPITAL NA MALINIS AT MABANGO given by the Department of Health, the Philippine Society for Quality Health Care( PSQUA) PARTNER in QUALITY AWARD and the GAWAD KALASAG , 2nd place , for Best Medical Institution advocating Disaster Risk Management (National Government Hospital Category) given by the Office of Civil Defense on December 12, 2012.

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) through Quality Improvement Studies (QIS) was institutionalized in NCH and pioneered by the Nursing Service. A total of 12 Quality Improvement Studies were done for the period of 2011 and 2012. Other areas such as the Department of Laboratory and Pathology Services also started to do QIS by making a study on the turn-around-time (TAT) of laboratory results.

The Hospital Patient Safety Program was created to ensure safety of patients in the environment of care. The Patient Safety Manual was approved on January 11, 2012 and a hospital wide orientation was conducted in the month of February.  Full implementation of the Patient Safety Program was started in May, 2012.  To measure effectiveness of the program a 2nd Safety Climate Survey was conducted on August 13-17, 2012. The second survey showed a safety climate measure of 74% (+21.8% increase compared to the baseline of 52.5% in 2010). The Clinical Pathway for the top ten (10) leading causes of admissions were reviewed and updated including the cost. Continues monitoring of its implementation and relevance is being done.

The Nursing Service, through the Chief Nurse, Daisy Llarenas , Training Officer  Ma. Lenore Pasol and Ms. Claire Batulan, were the forefront contributors in the development of the NURSE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM of the Department of Health. The Nurse Certification Program will accredit competency of nurses in Pediatric Nursing Specialty. There were fourteen (14) NCH nurses accredited as assessors for this program during its launching in November 23, 2012. Training modules to prepare all nurses for this nurse certification were crafted and are also available.

FACILITIES renovation and /or improvement continued in the different areas of the hospital such as the renovation of the 4th floor (Building 2), completion of the new Medical Arts Building (Building 4) through the assistance of DPWH, completion of the new Operating Room Complex through the assistance of Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. Budget from the DOH provided for the  construction of new three story hospital building to replace the old three story building (Building 1) to start in 2013. The retention and utilization of the hospital income have contributed to the procurement of more equipment, medical supplies and other needs for the operation of the hospital.

This year (2013) will be an exciting and challenging year for as the hospital prepares for ISO 9001: 2008 Certification and shortly after for ISO 15189 Medical Laboratory Accreditation. Fellowship Programs in Pediatric Subspecialties like Hematology, Pulmonology, Infectious Disease, Neurology and Pediatric Anesthesia will be developed. More Researches will be encouraged and supported to make NCH a center for pediatric research. Collaboration and networking with partner organizations locally and internationally will be continued and enhanced for more comprehensive and continuous improvement of delivery of services to our patients with public-private partnership. With the dedication and commitment of management and all the hospital staff, this will surely become a reality for National Children’s Hospital.

National Children’s Hospital has continually grown, evolved and expanded with the changing times. The hospital has been the frontrunner in the care of pediatric patients, in different stages of life and different types of diseases. Although almost 90% of patients are indigent, they have never been deprived of admission despite financial constraints. The delivery of services for indigent patients is done through innovation, sourcing out of funds and sponsorship, collaboration with government and non-government organizations and individuals. Through the years, this edifice has been and will always be a living testament of loving quality patient care and concern for all Filipino children.