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My St. Luke’s story

The best companies, including St. Luke’s, offer not just excellent salaries, benefits and a challenging work environment, but are evolving consistently to become better workplaces.

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For more than 115 years, St. Luke’s Medical Center has steadily built its reputation as the leading, most respected healthcare institution in the Philippines, at par with the most advanced hospitals in the world.

I live to tell about 11 of those 115 years. And yes, these are some of the most exhilarating 11 years of my professional life.

One of the highlights of my story was 16 January 2010. On that day 10 years ago, St. Luke’s opened its second facility in Bonifacio Global City. The launch was truly an affair to remember. The lobby, the stairs and the mezzanine teemed with business, government and other personalities, most of them lifelong patients of St. Luke’s Quezon City, literally elbow to elbow — joining the doctors and staff for this memorable milestone.

Happy anniversary, St. Luke’s Global City!

There’s a second reason I couldn’t resist dipping my laptop keys into the fray. The last weeks had been screaming with union talk. And management talk. And all else in between. A series of discussions and negotiations between management and the labor union at St. Luke’s Global City (which I won’t get into, because I know nothing beyond what’s already been printed) carried certain details that saddened my mostly happy heart.

Here’s the beef. Negative news — real or fake — gets a lot of coverage and attention. We forget there’s a whole lot of positive news as well. And by golly! With all the sad, bad, crazy goings-on around the world, ours included, we need a HUGE chunk of positive!

As a professional I believe we have a responsibility to use our talents wisely, guided by the highest standards of integrity — and a right to enjoy while doing so. But many fail to meet that responsibility, and they don’t claim their right to take pleasure and joy in their work.

So does any busy executive really have a shot at finding joy on the job? In the years before I retired from St. Luke’s as senior vice president for both Global City and Quezon City, I slept beside three phones and my husband, in that order. I would get calls at the oddest times of the day and night for a variety of reasons.

We can’t always control assignments we accept at work. But regardless of our position, the choice we make about how we approach our work is up to us. St. Luke’s has always been at the forefront of change. I needed to be innovative to keep pace with the global trends in healthcare, with patients whose demands and needs were growing as many took to Dr. Google for initial or alternative consult.

The best companies, including St. Luke’s, offer not just excellent salaries, benefits and a challenging work environment, but are evolving consistently to become better workplaces. We were totally aligned to that. Our mantra was, “The best can always be made better.” We were held to higher standards. That was not always easy. I don’t know if you note a certain level of thrill or excitement as my fingers pound on my keys, but I sincerely enjoyed the challenge to be always better than the last bout… than the last event… than the last growth in census and revenue.

Joy? Why not? It’s your choice as to how you interpret any situation, whether you’re looking at it positively with optimism, or as a challenge full of negativity. I chose to use my wings and fly. It wasn’t a walk in the park. Of course not! I had big responsibilities in terms of conceptualizing new products, opening new markets and sustaining the numbers, creating greater experiences for our patients, taking up new roles and innovating. On top of that, I wanted to make sure I had staff who were empowered, to grow into future executives of this or any organization.

This isn’t even an iota of the stories that filled my 11 years in St. Luke’s, but my space is limited. There will be other columns, and perhaps some volumes to make up a series of short stories. But let me get back to why I wrote this piece.

The second reason. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But there has got to be at least two sides or more to a story. I present the other side of the story, which I dare say is probably the same story that many like me would share if they had the pen. There are hundreds of us, much more than just the handful who choose to make public grievances against an institution that gave us decent, even generous returns for the work we rendered. Let’s not forget. Your one finger points at the boss. All the other fingers point right at you!

The first reason. Cheers to many more years for St. Luke’s Global City to provide world-class care to many more Filipinos and foreign patients who come to the Philippines for healthcare! Thank you for a great ride. It wasn’t perfect (11 near-perfect years). But neither is my love life (41 lovely years). Both amazing!

As for me, I am committed to an advocacy for patient safety through patient-centered care and will collect and share more stories that continue to define why we and those in healthcare are here — our patients.

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