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Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center: Of Nipa Hut Origins and Modern Charitable Causes

From the humble beginnings of a nipa hut rose one of the most premier medical institutions in the Philippines!

Enter Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGHMC), one of the oldest and most distinguished non-profit Chinese-Filipino hospitals in the country, with roots stretching all the way to the end of the late 1800s. Over the course of more than a century, CGHMC has built a reputation with its charitable services and missions to aid both the Chinese and the Filipino community by providing them with excellent medical services. 

Further introducing its rich history, state-of-the-art facilities, and unwaveringly dedicated care to patients from all walks of life, CHiNOY TV host Valerie Tan and CGHMC psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Go, walk us through the CGHMC halls with stories and insights from the institution’s team of highly skilled medical doctors and experts. 

 

Nipa hut beginnings

During the late 19th century, the non-Christian Chinese-Filipino community was once prohibited by Spanish authorities from being buried in their local cemeteries. Recognizing the plight of these then marginalized individuals, the beginnings of what would later become the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center came to be. 

In 1891, a simple nipa hut was built to help dying patients suffering from incurable illnesses in their last days of life. At the time, there was no effective treatment for cholera and other infectious diseases that then afflicted the Chinese diaspora. Hoping to create a safe space where the terminally ill could have dignity, Chinese immigrants offered donations to build a charitable resting place where the dying can stay before they could be buried in the Chinese cemetery. 

Decades later, Dr. Tee Han Kee then spent the 1920s converting the nipa hut into something more — a real Chinese hospital that dispensed invaluable expertise in Western medicine. Since then, the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center has evolved to the modern medical institution that it is today while still retaining its core of providing aid and care to members of all walks of life. 

 

A dated photo of the Chinese General Hospital (post-1920s).

 

That said, aside from CGHMC’s acts of charity, it is important to recognize that there remains a central pillar of objectives that the hospital and its people are actively striving for. 

“Most people associate Chinese General Hospital as a charity hospital,” shared CGHMC medical director Dr. Samuel Ang, knowingly. “It is, but aside from being a very charitable institution, it is also providing very excellent medical care.”

Ang further explained, “The mission of our hospital is to be a good training hospital for future physicians, aside from being an excellent service hospital. The vision is to provide a place where Filipinos of Chinese ancestry can come and train to become good doctors so that we can help the rest of the country.” 

 

Modern, state-of-the-art facilities with a purpose

Having come far from its nipa hut origins, CGHMC now boasts of impressive world-class facilities that deliver quality care to its patients, as well as employing a highly qualified team of more than 600 medical practitioners and 1,600 paramedic staff.

Offering a sneak peek into the top-of-the-line facilities, Dr. Jason Letran provided an inside look into CGHMC’s Cancer Institute: “Here in Chinese General Hospital, all the cancer-related services are housed in a single building. The first floor is where the radiology oncology unit is. The second floor is the whole unit for chemotherapy. The third floor is [for] the imaging modality of the MRI unit. Adjacent to our Cancer Institute is the PET-CT Scan Center, which houses the latest PET-Scan Model in the Philippines. From the fifth floor up, we have the patients’ rooms.” 

CGHMC’s Cancer Institute was officially inaugurated just four years ago, on May 10, 2019. It is by providing excellent services and establishing reliable, modern facilities such as this that CGHMC hopes to better service the Filipino people. 

“The Philippines has a lot of existing cancer centers. Most of them are in the more expensive private hospitals, which are usually beyond the reach of the usual Filipino patients. We believe that quality cancer care should be made affordable to everyone regardless of social status, race and religion,” stated Letran. 

In addition to the Cancer Institute, CGHMC also manages several other facilities such as the Heart Institute, the Department of Surgery, the Digestive Endoscopy Unit, the Institute of Urology, the Health and Wellness Center, the Institute of Pathology, the Eye Center, and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, among others. With the development of the Dr. James G. Dy Garden Suites, an all-new 16-storey building  with 250 rooms, the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center will become the largest private institution in the country. 

Essentially, all facilities are committed to helping patients in need gain better access to necessary services they might not be able to afford. The Heart Institute, for example, is working in collaboration with PhilHealth which aligns with this very purpose. 

“The Heart Institute is a multidisciplinary institute that can provide any heart patient with comprehensive care from the time they hit the hospital, [to] diagnosis, treatment, and then recovery,” said CGHMC cardiologist Dr. Timothy Dy. “In cooperation with PhilHealth, Chinese General Hospital’s Heart Institute is one of the first private hospitals to offer the Z-Benefit package, [with which] a patient can potentially have a whole bypass surgery, including cardiac rehabilitation, without having to shell out a single centavo.” 

 

Kelly Sia, the CGHMC executive vice president and COO.

 

Summarizing Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center as a hospital, CGHMC executive vice president and chief operating officer Kelly Sia said: “As a non-profit institution, our mission revolves around serving the community, ensuring that every patient has access to quality healthcare services. We make sure that everything we generate, we give back to the community. We allocate resources and the funds that we generate to enhance patient care, improve facilities, and outreach initiatives. We organize medical missions to those who have limited access to medical care.” 

Sia concluded, “We are committed to make an impact on the lives of our patients and our community.” 

 

The Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart episode is in tribute to Dr. James Dy, whose life of philanthropy created Dyna Music & Drugs, Universal Records, PolyEast Records, Eagle Electric, and Pan Pacific Travel Corporation, eventually culminating in his leadership of the Philippine-Chinese Charitable Association Inc. (PCCAI) and the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGH). Dr. Dy passed away on July 29, 2023.

For inquiries and more information on Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center’s services, visit https://cghmc.com.ph/ or reach out to CGHMC at (02) 8711-4141. Stay tuned for more updates on CHiNOY TV. 

 

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