On July 4, 2019, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital inaugurated the brand-new St. John Paul II Building, which will serve as an expansion of the current Private Division of the Hospital. Leading the ceremonies was no less than the Master of the Order of Preachers himself, the Very Rev. fr. Bruno F. Cadoré, O.P., Grand Chancellor of the University.
Care, service, humility
In his homily, fr. Cadoré, himself a medical doctor prior to becoming a priest, reminded the medical staff and the Thomasian community about the theology of care in the hospital setting, particularly that which is found within a Catholic university. Reflecting on the Gospel of the Paralytic, the Master emphasized that “[the hospital] community…takes care of sick people, and in a certain way, the University hospital is entrusted by humanity to take care, in the name of humanity, of each sick person coming here.”
Recognizing medicine as the melting pot of brains and talents, fr. Cadoré highlighted the need for technical competence and skills, but also stressed that this must be coupled with humility. “At one point, we all have to give all our knowledge, our energy, to take care [of the patient] and then, take a step back and let Him cure those [whom] He entrusted to us. This patient is not just your patient…and the profession of care requires this humility, to let the One who cares most, restore the patient.”
The Master likewise reminded the medical staff that more than just curing maladies, physicians and allied health professionals do something else for patients: “The care is always aimed at restoring the patient’s ability to carry out his or her health with confidence and support of all. We are here to take care, to cure sometimes, but more than all, to give once again confidence to each patient in his own life, his or her own capacity, ability to live among the human community.”
The dream and the patience
In his message, former Hospital Chief Executive Officer and incumbent University Rector fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., PhD said that the project was inspired “by a truly noble aim. It is the genuine dream in everyone’s heart to be of service to the Filipino people that kept this project going and in particular, to address the academic needs of the community of the University.”
Fr. Dagohoy thanked the Hospital administration for seeing the project through, and added that this new building “adds a new dimension to the Hospital as it continues to trailblaze in the areas of healthcare and service with the most highly trained medical specialists, with good hospital facilities and equipment, and competent and pleasant staff, which make patient experience more akin to getting well than feeling ill.” In a special way, the Rector thanked all those who worked for the building’s completion, such as the architects from the firm of former Architecture Dean John Joseph T. Fernandez, the engineers, the maintenance personnel, and security, all of whom “worked tirelessly to make this building presentable for us today.”
On its own two feet, standing proudly, in the service of humanity
UST Hospital Chief Executive Officer Fr. Manuel F. Roux, O.P., MHA noted that because the old edifice was meant to be a school building, it was not necessarily a perfect fit for a hospital setting. Thus, the dream was conceived to build one to house state-of-the-art facilities that will best satisfy the requirements set by regulatory and accrediting bodies.
Fr. Roux provided the audience with a glimpse of the history of the edifice and how the story was a journey of overcoming obstacles along the way: “The path to the dream was not easy.” Fr. Roux acknowledged that the edifice as it was inaugurated had several versions prior to its completion. “Today, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital continues to stand on its two feet, with no syndicated loan from any bank whatsoever, and continuously progresses,” claimed Fr. Roux. “This is largely thanks to our finance wizard,” pertaining to UST Hospital’s Director for Finance and Administration Assoc. Prof. Isidora A. Lee.
Fr. Roux highlighted that the reforms that began during the incumbency of former Rector fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P., who was also the Hospital COO at the time of his leadership, have been carried on up to the present, in the form of the OpCom or the Operations Committee.
Fr. Roux likewise noted that it was during the Rectorship of fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., who also was instrumental in the Hospital’s financial recovery prior to his election as University Rector, that the plans for a new Hospital building were commissioned to former Architecture Dean John Joseph T. Fernandez. It was Fernandez’s firm that designed the present structure, with the construction contract awarded to Hilmarc’s Corporation.
All throughout the construction of the building, Fr. Roux highlighted that the cooperation of everyone ensured the unhampered operations of the Hospital and the continued formation of students from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, “within the framework of Catholic education in the Dominican tradition.” Added to these educational efforts is the 2017 launch of the biannual, open-access Journal of Medicine – University of Santo Tomas (JMUST), “where the researches of our doctors can be published,” Fr. Roux said.
Finally, Fr. Roux highlighted that true to its mission, the UST Hospital intensified its outreach and indigency program. “Today, more than 1,800 patients benefitted from various programs that were given for free, such as child and adult wellness programs, hernia repair, breast cancer surgeries, thyroid surgeries, heart mission, and many more.” This initiative was recognized recently by HealthCare Asia Magazine, which awarded the UST Hospital the Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year 2019. Fr. Roux shared that “through this award, we were able to share our model to the Asia-Pacific community to inspire them to do the same so that together we can change the world of more of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.”
“The St. John Paul II Building is a testimony to the commitment of the UST Hospital to uphold and promote its tradition of compassionate healing and caring,” reiterated Fr. Roux.
Saints of healing
The new edifice bears the name of St. John Paul II, who visited the University in 1981 and 1995. Attributed to the beloved Polish Pope, who died in 2005, are two miracles of healing that led to his beatification and canonization, the miraculous healing of a nun and a woman, both of whom were terminally ill and were deemed beyond healing through medical means.
The old edifice, which began as the building of the College of Education, currently houses the Private Division. This edifice will remain to be part of the UST Hospital and will be named the St. Vincent Ferrer building. St. Vincent Ferrer is the 15th-century Dominican friar to whom hundreds of miracles of healing are attributed. In an article by Fr. Patrick Briscoe, O.P. in Aleteia, noted that in St. Vincent Ferrer’s lifetime alone, 873 miracles were already recorded, as well as at least 70 exorcisms, and 28 cases of raising people from the dead, as witnessed by Dominican Saint Antoninus of Florence.