Local officials and officers and staff of SM Foundation Inc. opened a newly upgraded health center, one of three, in Concepcion, Tarlac, last Friday. The new health center, costing P2 million, has a children’s play area and senior citizens’ waiting lounge, features adopted by SM Foundation in the Felicidad T. Sy (FTS) Wellness Centers it is building across the country. There are now 120 FTS Wellness Centers. This is the 30th community health center that SM Foundation upgraded.
SM Foundation Director for Health Connie Angeles said the foundation would take care of maintaining the center, which was widely applauded by the local officials.
The health center serves close to 200 patients (covering central and northern Concepcion) on clinic days of Mondays and Fridays; Wednesdays are immunization days; Tuesdays are for pregnant women and Thursdays for diabetic patients. But with a birthing center put up right beside it last year by the local government, Tuesdays might also be used for medical consultations.
The old Concepcion Health Center was built in 1999 during the term of then Mayor Avena who sought the help of Doña Lualhati Aldaba-Cojuangco, grandmother of former President Benigno Aquino while trapped in traffic on North Luzon Expressway, residents narrated.
When SM was applying for permits last year to put up a Savemore facility in Concepcion, incumbent Mayor Andres Lacson said, in jest, that it could also help in the renovation of the largest of three health centers. “Weeks after I joked to SM officials about this, the ocular inspection team came and renovation plans began taking place and here is what we are opening now,” the Mayor recalled in a speech during the inauguration.
Concepcion is one of the biggest municipalities in Tarlac, spanning 7.5 kilometers from the Capas junction to McArthur highway. It has 45 barangays. Dr. Raymond G. Valdez is the only doctor servicing a population of 75,000 with 20 midwives in the birthing center. He said ideally there should be seven regional health units (RHUs) in Concepcion with one doctor, nurse, sanitary inspector, dentist, and midwife each but there are only three operating.
Its population is now at over 200,000 and though it hosts many prominent families, the Cojuangcos and Aquinos for example, the poor residents outnumber the rich people in this vastly agricultural municipality, which had been elevated to first class municipality.
Just like most health centers in the country, cases diagnosed are acute respiratory diseases; cardio vascular diseases; hypertension; diabetes; COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases) and cancers. Common cause of mortality is heart attack (myocardial infraction) or cardiovascular attacks (strokes).
Infant mortality is almost nil, Valdez said citing that the staff have been properly trained to address to mothers about to give birth. Even the mothers have been trained to feel the timing of their childbirths. Herbolarios (those that administer the births at home) have ceased to exist since 1990, he noted.
Since health care awareness is low and with only one doctor around, the local government made sure to buy one mobile clinic that makes the rounds of the barangays each week so that people are given the most basic medical and dental attention, said Mayor Lacson.