The first thing that Dr. Eduardo S. Eseque, President of ManilaMed, formerly known as Medical Center Manila, does when he gets to the hospital is to do his rounds. He starts at the ground floor and works his way up the stairs until he reaches his office at the penthouse.
Wearing only his face mask, he makes sure that he visits the Emergency Room even if it is overflowing with Covid-19 cases. He makes sure that he checks on the hospital staff to make sure that they are doing well and that they know they can count on him for psychological and moral support. He also checks on his patients because he continues to do surgeries. Dr. Eseque does his rounds not only in the mornings but does it two to three times a day.
“I am here even on weekends. I do my work here. I do my surgeries here. I come here to find out if I miss any emails. But if I do miss anything, I am sure the shift nurse managers will tell me. That’s the typical me, wanting to be with you, wanting to be part of the ordinary life in the hospital, from the ranks, from my residents and then from my co-workers in the management,” Dr. Eseque said in an interview with BusinessMirror.
First to respond
If there is a person who knows ManilaMed inside and out, it is Dr. Eseque. That’s because he has been with the hospital since his residency days. It was the first hospital that sent him a letter and called him, requesting that he report to the Chairman of the Department of Surgery for an interview.
Surprised with the development, Dr. Eseque recalled that he had to borrow a shirt and shoes just so he could make it to his appointment.
“I am just an average guy and I said to myself that the standards at ManilaMed were very high. I was shellshocked and I realized then that I should have been more serious when I was still studying because it all boils down to what is on paper,” he recalled.
He heaved a sigh of relief when the chairman asked when he would be able to start. Dr. Eseque said he could start immediately and was told that his pre-residency would take two months and his performance during this period would determine if he was fit for this area of specialization.
“The chairman said that I had to withstand the long hours and duty every other day. I will literally live in the hospital for the rest of my training days if I am accepted,” Dr. Eseque said.
Here to stay
After meeting with the chairman, Dr. Asuncion Abaya-Morido, the Department of Surgery Training Officer was called in to talk to Dr. Eseque. She asked him what he would do if he was already accepted at ManilaMed but received a call from another institution.
“I said, Maam, this is all I can say. If you give me the chance, if you accept me here, I will finish my training regardless of what happens. I will be here. I am true to my word. And she said, I will hold you to that,” he said.
“So that was my challenge, to be true to my word. I am the sort of guy that if I say yes, it’s a yes. If I say I will stay, I will stay. So I stayed and until now I am here,” Dr. Eseque added.
As he stayed on, Dr. Eseque rose from the ranks. Prior to his appointment as ManilaMed President, he also assumed the positions of Chairman of the Department of Surgery; Deputy Medical Director for Professional Services and Medical Director. There was even a time when he held concurrent positions
It was during his stint as Chairman of the Department Surgery in March 2013 when Mount Grace Hospitals Inc. became the majority shareholder of ManilaMed. While the management team was happy with the merger, Dr. Eseque said they “never knew the corporate style of management.”
“It was very hard to understand when they started to show financial statements because that was never part of our upbringing in this hospital. Numbers! And all the departments are being given targets and everything and trying to understand all this,” he said.
To adapt to this new management style, Dr. Eseque said the management team took it upon itself to take up Masters in Hospital Management “to understand that and how management in a corporate setting is like and how it is going to be applied.”
“I wanted to support our chairman at that time in any way I could. If I can understand the system, then I can give him better advice on how I can help him,” he said.
When he was asked to become President of the hospital, Dr. Eseque said that if the management felt that he could contribute and that he would be of help to the institution he would accept the position. He did, however, make one request, and that is that he be allowed to continue doing surgeries.
“You cannot take me away from my profession. I am a surgeon and I will still hold my clinic. That is non-negotiable, I said. When the management agreed to my request, I had no choice but to accept the position of President,” Dr. Eseque said.
When asked how he manages to fit in surgeries and running a hospital in his schedule, Dr. Eseque attributed this to the time during his college days. He had what he called a structured life where the things he had to do were all listed in his calendar.
“This is one way to discipline yourself. You have things to do so if you delay by just one minute, everything will be delayed. I tried to balance my time and just strictly follow that schedule. I never expected that one day I would be sitting in the office and making decisions for the entire hospital, especially for this hospital,” he said.
When asked what his vision was for ManilaMed, Dr. Eseque said his “vision is to be favored for your patient experience.” However, he pointed out “how can one deliver it if you don’t feel like doing it?” Since he “feels the sentiments” of those among the rank and file, Dr. Eseque said it is important that the staff looks forward to go to work every day and are “excited to be around their co-workers.”
“My vision is for inclusive growth, from the basement up to the corporate staff. If you say inclusive, it means there is no exception and no exemption. It is also important that we remain grounded regardless of where you are in the stage of life. So to be there, you have to practice what you have been practicing all along,” he said.
Dr. Eseque also emphasized the need to return GMRC or Good Manners and Right Conduct to the curriculum because it is one of the basic requirements. Showing respect, he said, is one way of giving dignity to even the smallest of things.
“I am also fond of giving surprises. I make surprise visits and I give a little something to all our staff. Just recently, we gave all our 800 employees 10 kilos of rice. They were so happy to receive it. Some of them even asked me when I would be giving out canned goods,” he said with a laugh, adding that instead of giving them canned goods, he treated them all to burger steak with rice.
As for his future plans for the hospital, Dr. Eseque said there is talk of having one of their institutes of services being accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) which accredits and certifies health care organizations and programs across the globe. The target is their cardiology service.
“Secondly, I would like to advance our surgical services. We are planning to buy a robot because I would like to complement all the doctors not only in Manila but also outside of Manila,” he said.
In the end, all that matters is when the patients go to ManilaMed for their health concerns, Dr. Eseque said “we will heal them. That when the moment they walk in, until the moment they step out of the hospital’s walls and doors, that we provide them with the best experience.”
“Yes, that is our creed. What will differentiate you from the others is the experience that you provide for patients who walk into our doors,” he said.