BMC inaugurates new mental facility

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay


The inauguration and blessing of the new and refurbished mental health facility in Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur, has opened a whole new perspective on how the Bicol Medical Center (BMC), thru its Psychiatry Department, intends to minimize if not remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems, bring back the self-esteem of mental patients, and put an end to any forms of discrimination for those afflicted with mental illness.

The green architectural design of the new facility at the Don Susano J. Rodriguez Memorial Mental Hospital (DSJRMMH) (photo credits: MGalvan/BMC)


Out of the once-dilapidated and worn-out Don Susano J. Rodriguez Memorial Mental Hospital (DSJRMMH), a new Mental Health and Wellness Facility was born, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and better health care services under the professional hands of mental health specialists, who are committed and dedicated in ushering an innovative psychiatric health care to its patients.


The DSJRMMH located in s sprawling 32.6 hectares lot is now home to wholistically designed out-patient building, administrative building, male ward, dietary, linen and laundry building, engineering and maintenance building, indoor and outdoor therapy area for in-patients, and play room for children in acute crisis.


A counselling room, neuropsychiatric testing room and pharmacy or Botika sa Masa are also part of the said edifice.


A dream comes true


Department of Psychiatry assistant administrator Ma. Theresa Reyes- Galvan feels that she is still caught in surreal sense that everything that just happened is too good to be true.


“It all started with a dream as we slowly moved from one request to another, until we realized, it finally happened. We are also blessed with great people who are instrumental in making this dream a reality. The Bicol Medical Center Department of Psychiatry started its planning for a New System including the construction of new buildings last 2011 under the leadership of then Medical Center Chief (MCC) Dr. Efren Nerva. The conceptualization of the projects continued during the time of MCC then Dr Marla Litam and finished today under Dr. Francisco Sales III,” Galvan stated.


The first building that was constructed was the Acute Crisis Intervention Services where newly admitted patients are placed for close monitoring. It started its full operation in 2018.


The green and modern architecture of the BMC Psychiatry, according to Galvan, is to create a new picture of hope.


“We wanted to have a different picture, the reason for the green architecture. We don’t want them to feel isolated. We want to make them feel that even if they felt like they are “imprisoned”, they will not feel desolate, but find hope that they will be healed. We want them to feel that this too, is their home,” Galvan added.


State-of-the-art facilities


BMC’s Department of Psychiatry was the first hospital to have the Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Machine in the Philippines that caters to therapeutic non-invasive treatment for patient suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Schizophrenia and other behavioral symptoms.


BMC Medical Professional Staff Division chief, Dr. Mary Jane Guazon-Uy, said that aside from BMC’s state-of- the- art facilities, they offer the TMS for depressive disorders and for patients unresponsive to treatment.


“TMS is available only in few centers in Southeast Asia. Under the new leadership of Dr. Sales, we took advantage of the pandemic to improve our infrastructure. We also want to improve the public perception towards the government’s mental health facilities by providing state-of-the-art services and professional psychiatric care,” Uy said.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Machine (Photo credits: MGalvan-BMC )


Uy recalled how people, especially those who grew up in Camarines Sur and Naga City, know what it meant when they are told, “Dadarahon taka sa Cadlan (We will bring you in Cadlan)”.


“It meant incarceration in a place worse than prison, where the smell of urine, feces and unwashed bodies travels ahead, a hundred meters away, even before you set foot on the decrepit buildings. This used to be a place to abandon all hopes. But now, DSJRMMH is very far from that reputation,” Uy said.


Next in line, Galvan said, is the purchase of an electroconvulsive machine, which will be used for electroconvulsive therapy that will provide relief to psychologically challenged patients.


DSJRMMH has a total bed capacity of 200 and is run by four specialist doctors, namely: Dr. Edessa P. Laguidao, Department chairperson; Dr. Orville Jess A. Pandes, training officer; Dr. Lalyn Irene D. Marzan, forensic psychiatrist; and Dr. Ellaine Romano, Child & Adolescent psychiatrist.


Galvan said that they usually surpass that number up to 250. They also cater to at least 80 to 100 persons daily in the Out-Patient Department.


BMC Medical Center chief Francisco Sales III expressed his gratitude to everyone who dedicated their time, resources and commitment to ensure that all their efforts to make a change will not be wasted.


“The Department of Health (DOH) has been very supportive of our plans. I would like to specially thank DOH Asec. Maria Francia Laxamana, DOH Center for Health Development Region V Director Dr. Ernie Vera, the Department of Psychiatry, the committee and personnel of the Psychiatry Ward, and everyone who are instrumental in etching another milestone to BMC,” Sales said. (PIA5/Camarines Sur)