SMFI launches healthcare program for employees & dependents


By Rose de la Cruz


For tens of thousands of SM Group employees, healthcare is something they would not pass up on.


That is why at the launch of the comprehensive healthcare service of SM Foundation Inc. last Wednesday at the SM Fairview Annex, thousands of employees of the branch and their dependents plus residents of nearby villages came in big numbers to enlist and avail of the numerous diagnostic and consultation services of doctors and equipment pooled together by SMFI.


The idea behind the program is that most SM employees who have HMO cards and allocations, have already used up their allotments for the year without completing their healthcare needs, and have nothing left for their dependents.


“Since we have been doing our monthly medical and dental outreach programs all over the country where SM Group operates, why not for our own employees who are in dire need of such services too,” said Connie Angeles, SMFI Executive Director for healthcare and wellness.


She adds that real charity begins at home and taking care of our employees is as much our concern as taking care of the communities we operate in.


Big droves


Although only a thousand employees previously signed up for this activity, the actual number of employees who left their post temporarily and brought their families and themselves to the different medical health service providers at the Annex Ground floor entrance far exceeded that. The residents also came in big droves but the process was systematized and orderly.


Dr. Bless Bertos, head of SMFI medical and dental missions, said she did not expect such huge number of people showing up and judging by their appearances, they came from all walks of life (the elderly who were wheeled into the venue; infants and toddlers, the poor and the rich) many of whom came from the nearby villages.


A memorandum of agreement was signed between SMFI and the participating partner medical practitioners. With this MOA, between SMFI and partners, there is now a guarantee that this healthcare program for the employees would become a regular quarterly endeavor for the benefit of tens of thousands of SM Group’s employees and their dependents, added Chito Macapagal, Trustee of the SMFI and head of the Group’s Corporate Affairs.


Partners in the endeavor included: International College of Surgeons (first time to get involved with SMFI’s healthcare activities); International Academy of Medical Specialists; SM Fairview employees (as volunteers and availers); the local government units; the Red Cross Quezon City chapter; Philippine Normal University; Multicare; Gx and Wilore.


There were lectures by MDs on cancers, cardiovascular and diabetes diseases for those queueing for their turns at the various health services, a pharmacy for those who had been prescribed medicines by the doctors and a toy booth for infants and children all provided by the Group.


And since this is the first health undertaking for the employees, an acupuncture booth (one of the bestsellers among the services offered there); an OB- Gyne “room”; a minor surgery “room” ophthalmological and optometry sections and two mobile clinic trucks (X-rays, ultrasound for kidney stones and ECG) were made available for the employees and other patrons.


Aside from the monthly medical and missions that SMFI conducts for the communities the Group is located, it also builds new or renovates existing civilian health centers and wards in military and police camps all over the country.




Although I have always looked at acupuncture with much cynicism and skepticism, I tried it out myself as I was feeling too much pain on my right heel and right wrist.


To my surprise, I found out that all the five or six practicing acupuncturists were all MDs (one of whom is Dr. Romeo Gavino, at past 80, is still hale and hearty and so full of humor that I did not feel the needles being stuck into areas where the pains should be addressed.


He had such scientific and medical explanations for the placement of the needles, I could not understand them one bit, but I put my trust into what he was doing. As he was conversing and telling me so many stories—joking me even that I was his guinea pig (as it was his first actual practice), I just said okay I will allow you to experiment on me. But my fears dissipated when he told his fellow doctors the science behind the placement of the needles. As I felt the pain slowly disappearing, I kept on encouraging people to try acupuncture and to my surprise, reception was so great in the practice.


This is the first time that the acupuncturists participated in an SMFI healthcare program and they said they would be willing to join future programs of the foundation.




Another “bestseller” in the event was the ophthalmology/optometry services which had long queues (seated and standing patients) waiting for on-the-spot scan of their retina and irises and the others waiting to be given free graded reading glasses.


Regardless of the numerous optometry shops in the country, people lined up for reading graded glasses, which they are sure are safe for use. As for ophthalmological services, there are only a few clinics catering to this specialized service which is why they are so expensive, no wonder the long queues.


Mobile clinics


SMFI made available two of its five mobile clinics with X-ray machines, ultra sound and ECG scanners. Each clinic is capable of accommodating 150 patients, Angeles explained.


Pretty soon, SMFI will be deploying digital X-ray machines with the results to be made available on-the-spot and at real time through the internet, explained Macapagal adding that there would be no more need to come back and wait for the results to be read.





Surgeons were available with four beds each for Surgery and OB-Gyne “rooms” set up at the Annex. Minor surgeries for warts and other skin growths, circumcision and other procedures were available for those needing them.


Pregnant women were made to undergo ultra sound first before they could get into the OB-Gyne room for pre- natal assessment.




For those given prescriptions by the MDs in the event, they just proceeded near the exit gate where the pharmacy was located beside the toys dispenser.


The medicines were also free and the toys for infants and toddlers were given as the parents exited with the young.


Services offered


The consultation services offered were: internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, ENT, ophtha, orthopedics, urology, general surgeon (removal of lipoma, ganglion cyst, skin tag and sebaceous cyst; cauterization) dermatology and plastic surgery.


Diagnostics included blood test for sugar, cholesterol, uric acid, ECG, X ray and ultrasound (abdominal and prostate); dental services included extraction and fluoride treatment; lectures were focused on cancer, hypertension, diabetes, smoking and proper nutrition.


Dr. Bless Bertos, head of SMFI medical and dental missions, said she did not expect such huge number of people showing up and judging by their appearances, they came from all walks of life (the elderly who were wheeled into the venue; infants and toddlers, the poor and the rich) many of whom came from the nearby villages. #






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Thursday, 13 December 2018
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