Thursday, October 9, 2014


I did not get the chance to say goodbye.

On September 16, 2014, I formally stepped aside from being Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Asian Hospital and Medical Center, a position I accepted three years ago.

In 2011, when I assumed the position to lead a department at the hospital, my initial reaction was fear. I don't know how many of my colleagues knew that, but now I can confess to you my skepticism in accepting the role. I was afraid. Because I barely knew 30% of you. Because I did not know how you would accept me. Because I did not want to let you down on expectations.

The first few nights were practically sleepless ones for me. I would call or drag Bettina to one side and ask her who all the pediatricians at the hospital were. We would go through your names one by one and I would need to place a face in the name. While many of you knew me because you either were once my students or had heard me give a lecture in some conference or convention, I needed to get to know you better. I would ponder and dream of great things for our department. After all, pediatrics is not a major contributor to the financial coffers with "toys for the big boys" like surgery or "dramatic landscapes and stories" like oncology or "sculpting and laser technologies for the forever young" like dermatology. You get kids - either sick or the newborn. They come in for a couple of days. We fix their disease. They go home. No fanfare there.

Where do we put our mark in this hospital?

Three years ago seemed such a long time. On our first staff meeting, I laid out my plans and asked your support. I believe you were all overwhelmed.

Residency training.

Mother-baby friendly hospital.

Pediatrics office.

Continuing medical education courses.

Was I dreaming or was I crazy? Is he nuts? Did we just elect the wrong person to lead us? My God we're going to actually work?!?!

I needed to prove to you that together, no dream would be too small to achieve.

The three years went by very quickly.

Somewhere along the road, someone decided that JCI Accreditation would be part of the picture. That wasn't in our road map initially. But together, we took it in stride. Even if I had to stand at the podium for the next 9 straight hours giving the lecture, by golly I did and my God, you all stayed behind to finish it!

We had our official accreditations for life support programs and when push came to shove, the remaining few that were not board certified really proved to themselves (and to me), that, yes, they could do it. Taking the amnesty certification exam was no small task and I take my hats off to all who took it and congratulate those who made it. It was a pat on your back that you truly deserved. I just provided the push, but you made yourselves proud.

The back-to-back annual continuing medical education activities were tremendously successful. We raised enough funds to contribute to the continuing education and training of our own residents as well.

The mother-baby-friendly hospital was a challenge because it would mean the cooperation of the department of Obstetrics and the hospital administration. We had a few disappointments from moms posting on FB their rules of engagement for being breastfeeding advocates, but we stuck our guns and still bagged being accredited MBFH and being the only hospital that's accredited being mother-baby friendly in the workplace too!!!

And of course my pet project, the pediatric residency program. During our first try at it, we were gently struck down by the Philippine Pediatric Society because we lacked a few requirements. Getting residency training accreditation was more difficult than JCIA. I needed to show you how determined I was at getting Asian Hospital accredited. I went home that day and cried my heart out, but I didn't want to show you my weak side. Of course I cry! I also bleed. The second try last August 2014 was nerve-wracking. There were questions that Drs. Mon Arcadio and Gener Becina would ask on the side, and I had no answers, but reassured them that I would be here always to make sure that we graduate our first trainees and make home grown pediatricians out of them.

I was in the middle of seeing patients, when Gener and Mon (and Madz) texted me last September 10 that the PPS Hospital Accreditation Board had granted Level 1 accreditation (3 years residency training program) to us. I sat down in the clinic and was teary-eyed looking at my cellphone in awe. My secretary came in and asked why I was crying. I told her the good news. Wiped my tears dry. And it was business as usual. Next patient please.

When I got home, I giddily announced to all the good news, my mom included. I took pride in my pediatric staff that we were able to show to all the other clinical departments that we would make the grade for residency program and that Pediatrics would be the first clinical department at Asian Hospital that would do this!

That night, I stayed up in my room making this post. It took awhile to compose it because I didn't really know what to write. But I knew that it was time.

To say goodbye.

But I'm finishing it today.

By saying thank you so much to all of you who have made my three years as chairman of the department a truly memorable one. Three years of getting to know more good people and making friends. Three years of making you part of my daily life. Three years of serving some of the very best pediatricians in the country. And yes, three years of believing in me and in our dreams and making these dreams a reality. I couldn't have been more blessed and thankful with a great, rowdy, crazy, happy bunch of doctors who made each day crazier and yet a blessing for me.

During the first exit interview with the PPS HAB, Gener told me that in all his years as part of the HAB, he has not seen so much love and support from a pediatric staff like the one at Asian Hospital. He told me that if he were to base accreditation for residency programs based on morale of the staff, we would be number 1.

And he's right. It takes people to make dreams come true.

Someone once said that a true leader is not someone who tells his people what to do and when to do it. A leader is a person who points in the direction for his people.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead you.

See you around my friends...