Manila Doctors Hospital Endoscopy Unit
What were previously unseen maladies in the inner recesses of the gastrointestinal tract are now visible, and in some instances, treatable with this procedure. It has saved many lives with its timely diagnosis and early diagnosis of GI problems which could have potentially cut short the lives of these patients
By GELYKA RUTH R. DUMARAOS
A few decades ago, the domain of the subspecialty of Gastroenterology has earned the moniker as the ‘temple of surprises’. Much of the challenge was in trying to find out what problem could be present in the inner recesses of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
This outlook has completely changed with the advent of endoscopy.
The practice of endoscopy in the Philippines has indeed gone a long way. From limited equipments and lack of specialists, the advances in this field have paved the way for early diagnosis and curative treatment of potentially life-threatening GI disorders like malignancies.
Its benefits have been considered life changing, with the many lives that could be saved by early diagnosis and treatment. For this, many consider endoscopy as a ‘game-changer’ in the challenging field of Gastroenterology.
World-class endoscopy unit
Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH) is one of the leading providers of world-class and state-of-the-art gastrointestinal and pulmonary therapeutic procedures which are all under the umbrella of its Endoscopy Unit.
However, far from what one can see today, the MDH Endoscopy Unit had its humble beginnings. It was once tucked inside the operating room (OR), equipped with just one bed and a single scope.
Dr. Evelyn B. Dy, head of the Endoscopy Unit, recalls that the scope was not even theirs. They borrowed one whenever the need arose. But as the field of endoscopy advanced and more and more patients came to the hospital for the procedure, they bought their own scope from Singapore which signaled the start of a unit for the field as they had envisioned.
“I told the administration, I think we need to be independent from the OR,” says Dr. Dy, noting that it was also the time they knew they need to have their own area as new equipments were added to the unit.
Along with a feasibility study she presented to the hospital administration, as well as the coming of new consultants who could do therapeutic endoscopy and colonoscopy, Dr. Dy knew and believed it was high time. The Endoscopy Unit was finally inaugurated on June 15, 2007 at the 2nd floor of the hospital.
Fellowship training program
The MDH Section of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Unit started their own fellowship training program in 1997 which yielded their first fellow graduate in two years. The fellow is now practicing in Tacloban. From 1997 until the present, the GI Section and Endoscopy Unit graduated 34 gastroenterologist fellows, with half of them already practicing in the provinces.
The fellowship training program and increase in the volume of procedures also paved the way for the Endoscopy Unit to expand in space. Dr. Dy recalls how patients and nurses tried not to bump into each other due to the limited space. The privacy and comfort of each patient was also an utmost concern that the staff addressed.
“I think we need a more sophisticated endoscopy unit because of what is coming, such as the future endoscopic ultrasound and other therapeutic procedures,” she says.
Though expanding may mean a risk in sustaining it, Dr. Dy took the courage to push for this goal. Although concerned with the risks it would entail, she and the other consultants believed it was necessary and sustainable. “It’s hard to say but we’re always trying our best. We will never know until we do it,” says Dr. Dy. And on December last year, the Endoscopy Unit had its renovation and expansion and is now ready to accommodate four patients at a time.
But it is not stopping there. As it expands, it aims to add more machines to improve their services. For this year, she hopes to procure their own C-arm x-ray machine for fluoroscopy so they can do ERCP procedures in the unit itself. They just need to coordinate with the Department of Radiology for the scheduling.
Taking pride in consultants
More than the new technology it adds, the Endoscopy Unit takes great pride in their consultants. It consists of well-trained and board-certified gastroenterologists and pulmonologists. Dr. Dy says that a major goal of the training program is to fill in the lack of specialists in the provinces, particularly in the rural areas.
“There is a need in the province,” stresses Dr. Dy. However lately, they’re encouraging also some to stay here in Manila “because I have to at least plan for the succession, because we’re getting older.”
It is heartening to note that new consultants are now more attracted to practice in the province than in Manila, probably because of the less stressful lifestyle in the provinces. They come back to Manila though from time to time to be always updated in new trends and technology.
Professional development programs
The MDH Endoscopy Unit also have ongoing professional development programs for its staff to learn new techniques and procedures. “Definitely we need more consultants to do the procedures here to sustain the unit,” she says.
The Endoscopy Unit is also partnering with the Philippine Society of Digestive Endoscopy (PSDE) for workshops conducted in the hospital. This also helps create more awareness about the unit.
Dr. Dy also hopes to collaborate further with the Society in inviting foreign doctors to speak in the hospital and make it known as a premiere endoscopy center.
“We are closely working towards the vision to be the best, if not one of the best units in the Philippines—able to hold workshops, and being available for all gastroenterologists,” Dr. Dy says.
It all started with a dream. From humble beginnings, its focus on its grand vision has made the Manila Doctors Hospital’s Endoscopy Center what it is today—well on its way to delivering world class endoscopy care.
March 2018 Health and Lifestyle