Being in charge of a medical center in a bustling metropolis is quite a cross to bear. One must have the right blend of expertise, empathy and a strong work ethic, as well as the stamina to endure some very tough times.
In Davao City, the largest city in the Philippines, such a hospital requires a double dose of all of the above. That hospital, the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), exists, and so does its manager, who has the right stuff in spades.
"I’m a family medicine specialist with a subspecialty in emergency medicine," says Ricardo Audan, the current Medical Center Chief (MCC) at SPMC. "I was an ER chief for eight years, then Chief Training Officer and then Clinic Chief. Basically, I rose through the ranks."
With 30 years of government medical service, Audan has a deep understanding of the overall flow of SPMC’s operations inside and out. By working with leaders across departments and in other hospitals, he has maintained and demonstrated the importance of a firm work ethic and a need to produce quality work at all times.
SPMC needs an empathic, motivated leader that can inspire and empower colleagues and staff.
But it hasn’t been a smooth journey, particularly when Audan was asked to follow in the footsteps of the celebrated former MCC, Leopoldo ‘Bong’ Vega. "It wasn’t easy for me to accept the responsibility of the MCC role, especially when your predecessor has done great things for SPMC," Audan says.
"You only live once, however, and running the biggest hospital in the Philippines is such a huge opportunity to be of service to the Mindanaoans. I’m driven to turn Vega’s innovative ideas into reality, and I’m always looking to build on and improve current processes to reach a unified, harmonious protocol within the hospital."
Creating champion staff
Throughout his career, Audan has been fueled by integrity and a need to aid the needy.
"I am a person that’s always had a heart for the poor and indigent," he says. "SPMC needs an empathic, motivated leader that can inspire and empower colleagues and staff, so I feel like I’ve been given the best shot of my career, a chance to provide that need."
Running SPMC has provided a wealth of opportunities, be it for personal growth or the improvement of the quality of care for others.
"One of the very reasons for SPMC’s existence is our patients," he says.
"So we’ve established medical specialty institutes within SPMC to produce patient outcomes on par with international standards, including access issues, decreasing morbidity and mortality and providing a one-stop shop of non-fragmented services to enhance the patient experience.
For staff, there’s a robust training program in place. "A facility without skilled healthcare professionals will not be able to make a dent in the health outcomes of the populace," Audan says. "As a medical practitioner myself, we thrive on having the latest practices and training."
His philosophy of "champion leaders produce champion employees" helps ensure SPMC staff are always at their best. "I try to know the strengths of my staff and help them develop their skills by supporting and providing avenues of growth," he says.
"This is a highly skilled, highly motivated workplace, but it’s also highly independent."
Service as a priority
Everyone at SPMC is aligned with the SERVE vision: state-of-the-art technology, enhanced training and research, relevant linkages and networks, virtues of compassion and public service and environmental safety.
"As important as training and research are, service will always be our top priority."
With its advanced and expanding medical facilities, an assemblage of the best and brightest practitioners and a culture of excellence among its leadership, SPMC is well placed to serve the people of Davao City.
As important as training and research are, service will always be our top priority.
And then there are the advances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly surrounding digitalization. "Teleconsulting was a big help during the pandemic, and that continues today," he says. "We also allow residents and doctors to use their own devices to access all hospital systems wherever they are. We’re very flexible with the rendering of duties."
No small feat for a hospital the size of SPMC. "We have 17 fully accredited clinical departments and 28 accredited fellowship training programs," Audan says. "That’s quite big. And for a hospital of this size, suppliers and partners are attracted to us. We’re open to everyone."
Prestige, says Audan, is only a secondary aspect in his role. "The patients and their care come first, and we provide quality health care," he says.
"There will be struggles and challenges along the way, but with the support of my SPMC family I’m determined to make my success our success."