Hope in Santa Cruz

Among the most inauspicious highlights of the 21st Century, the COVID 19 pandemic deserves the top spot. The amount of change, torment, and struggles it delivers up to the present, from the healthcare workers to the patients and their families are immeasurable. Uncertainty holds sway in the consciousness of most, if not all of us, as the current situation of sickness and devastation grimly reminds us of how brittle and short human life is. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel continue to flicker as we begin to realize by now that we are in for a tough and protracted war.  

Change indeed came swiftly and painfully and it came in the form of something one could not even imagine occurring in his or her lifetime.  However, change, in whatever form or name it is called needs to be embraced lest we become extinct. The Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center Department of Ophthalmology decided early on that we must continue to learn, adapt, and grow amid all the uncertainties.

We protected our working spaces and ourselves with means both proven and otherwise, as we continued to see and treat our patients based on existing hospital orders and protocols. Needless to say, we have had our fair shares of being exposed to infected patients and getting sick ourselves. We had to make the painful decision to extend our residency training for another year, in order to adapt to the circumstances. Teleophthalmology proved to be invaluable in screening and triaging our patients, while ensuring the seamless delivery of care to them, as well. Both intra and extra institutional collaborative efforts were strengthened and maximized so as not to deprive the patients of the medical help they desperately need. We are truly grateful, and we salute our colleagues in other institutions who receive the patients we could no longer attend to, amid their own limitations and difficulties.

In the area of training, the different activities offered by the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology, different sub-specialty societies and by the other institutions significantly augment our departmental learning programs. Research wise, our themes and subjects gravitate toward those related to the current pandemic, particularly on novel ways in ensuring safe delivery of competent eye care services during these times.  

We continue to find ways on how to make our services safely accessible, maximizing the current technologies at our disposal. We hope that some of our research would help in policy making decisions in the institutional level and beyond. 

Perhaps like everyone, we continue to struggle and to cope but our spirit and willingness to serve and learn remain indomitable, fully aware that this pandemic won’t probably be the last disturbance that we will experience. 

Dr. Rodrigo Senador goes with many nicknames: Benj or Benjie, Digoy or Koyang (esp. among his Retina Service colleagues) but the most appropriate is “BOSS” as he has been steering the department since January 2021, introducing the theme of interdependent Gears to inspire everyone to work together synchronously for the forward and onward thrust of JRRMMC’s Department of Ophthalmology!

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