Friday, April 2, 2010

Former U.P. PGH Director, U.P. College of Medicine alumni weigh in on PGH crisis

By Chanda Shahani

The former Director of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Dr. Gabriel G. Carreon, has emailed the Diliman Diary from Sydney, Australia on April 2, 2010 with a proposal to end the leadership crisis at PGH. As part of our responsibilities as a community weblog that seeks to disseminate critical and important information right away to policy makers and our readers, we are reproducing the contents of the email  with his permission:

"Dear Mr. Shahani,

"As a former Director of the Philippine General Hospital, I have been closely following on your website since December 2009, the very disturbing events and developments about the PGH Directorship and have very serious concerns about the detrimental effects on the institution, the staff and the patients that the hospital serves. I suggest the following action to help address and hopefully resolve the problem, in the spirit and principle of true democracy, by demonstrating the will of the more than 4000 persons working at the PGH and the UP College of Medicine, who provide health care to the public and teach medical students and train young doctors, and who will accept and be working with full support and unequivocal commitment with their PGH Director of choice. These persons, include the medical [consultant and resident doctors], nursing, paramedical and administrative staff of PGH and relevant medical faculty staff of the UP College of Medicine . In pursuing this action, the health and welfare of the public is kept foremost by the UP and the PGH."

"The Chancellor of UP Manila , Dr. Ramon Arcadio, Dr. Jose Gonzales and Dr. Eric Domingo will agree to a SNAP referendum/election/secret ballot [to avoid any campaigning period] by the whole PGH constituency and relevant UP College of Medicine staff, to be called and administered [with complete transparency] by the UP Manila Chancellor and that Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Domingo will abide with the outcome of the election and not challenge the results, which will be final and binding to the Board of Regents, UP administration and the PGH. This will avoid all the unproductive happenings continuing to occur and will place the welfare and interest of and service to the public as the only priority of this venerable SERVICE and training institution -- the Philippine General Hospital."

"Gabriel G. Carreon, M.D.
Former Director of PGH, 1971 to 1979
Former Action for Health Services
Metro Manila Commission 1975 to 1979

Sydney, Australia"

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society in America (UPMASA) has sent a Statement of Concern, also on the PGH leadership crisis, which they have copy furnished to the Diliman Diary via email also on April 2, 2010. It was signed by UPMASA's key officers: Ofelia D. Madrid-Bernabe, M.D. as President; Silverio Cabellon, Jr., M.D., as Chairperson, Board of Governors and William H. E. Romero, M.D., as Recording Secretary.

Here is what the Statement of Concern said (the scan of the statement is embedded above):

"We, the Board of Governors of the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society in America (UPMASA), are deeply concerned over the controversy surrounding the appointment of the Director of the Philippine General Hospital."

"UPMASA, the alumni organization of the UP College of Medicine in North America, Europe and other countries outside of the Philippines, is issuing this statement in its capacity as a major donor of funds and equipment to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). UPMASA derives its support from its membership and it is our fiduciary obligation to ensure that donations to the PGH are received by a stable and fiscally-responsible hospital administration."

"This unresolved dispute between conflicting appointments of two directors has resulted in lawsuits among the protagonists as well as unrest within the various communities of the University of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital. This discord has escalated to a mass leave of absence amongst the PGH attending physicians starting March 29, 2010."

"We are concerned that these ongoing conflicts are affecting crucial hospital operations, health access, and timely delivery of quality patient care at the Philippine General Hospital to the indigent patients who need them most."

"We therefore request a speedy and rightful resolution of this issue."

Even as Dr. Carreon and UPMASA weigh in on the issue, U.P. President Emerlinda Roman has not yet attempted to broker any meaningful dialogue between supporters of Dr. Enrique Domingo and Dr. Jose Gonzales, who have both been selected by the Board of Regents (BOR) as Director and are contesting each others' right to occupy the position at present.

President Roman has publicly stated in the past that she believes that the BOR should defer to the judgement of the concerned faculty in deciding its own internal matters; especially those involving the academic freedom of the faculty. In this particular case, the BOR or President Roman or the U.P. Legal Office has yet to issue any public statement centering on the recognition of the weight given by the BOR to the academic freedom of the U.P. College of Medicine faculty in nominating or retaining a PGH Director ; many of whom are also common faculty at the Philippine General Hospital.

(Chanda Shahani is the Editor of the Diliman Diary)

(Photo reproduced with permission of

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