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US$5M surgical hospital soon to rise in Victorias

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Dr. Nia Zalamea-Ducklo and her father, Dr. Renato Zalamea, founder of  the Memphis Mercy Mission, with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Javier Miguel “Javi” Benitez (left to right).*

The Memphis Mission of Mercy, a non-profit United States organization, is soon to build a US$5 million (P250 million) surgical hospital in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

This was disclosed by Victorias City mayoralty aspirant Javier Miguel “Javi” Benitez, who recently met with Dr. Ducklo and her father, Dr. Renato Zalamea, founder of the Memphis Mission of Mercy, a United States-based non-profit organization focusing on surgical humanitarian mission in the Philippines.

The proposed establishment of a surgical hospital in Victorias City started during the term of the late former Mayor Remedios Palanca-Bantug, the great grandmother of Javi.

Benitez said he took the initiative to make the long-felt dream of Victoriahanons for a hospital a reality, by picking up the pieces where the project had encountered unforeseen circumstances during the term of his great grandmother.

It was the late Mayor Remedios Bantug who brought the Memphis Mission of Mercy to Victorias City.

He added that he was told by Dr. Nia Zalamea-Ducklo, vice president and project director of the Memphis Mission of Mercy, that they are now ready to realize their dream of building a hospital in Victorias City, after 19 years of serving the Philippines.

In December last year, Benitez personally met with Dr. Ducklo and her father, Dr. Renato Zalamea, founder of the non- profit organization, in Memphis, United States, to follow up on the project.

Javi also met with Architect Carlos Arnaiz, who designed the proposed surgical hospital in New York.

Arnaiz traces his family roots to Victorias City where his great, great grandfather lived.

Founded in 1999, the Memphis Mission of Mercy supplied more than $17.7 M free medical and surgical care that were availed of by about 26,000 patients during its 22 trips to the country. More than 900 major and minor surgeries had been conducted by volunteer doctors, nurses and support staff who are mostly Memphis-based.

Benitez said he was told by Dr. Ducklo, a general surgeon and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, that it is their family legacy of servant-leadership that inspired her to help those in need.

With intensive research as part of the project planning, Dr. Ducklo said the facility will provide ongoing surgical care, as well as educational development in partnership with the local medical community.

On the other hand, Benitez said he was told by Arnaiz that the hospital will have six operating rooms, a welcoming design, to include a large community space, a library, a small restaurant and chapel, volunteer dormitories, gardens and even a studio for a resident artist.

Javi added that he looks forward to seriously doing the groundwork until the realization of the project which aims to further strengthen access to primary health care and further improve medical services to all Victoriahanons.

“The dream of a hospital for Victoriahanons is now on track,” he declared.*

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