The Department of Newborn Medicine originated as the Section of Newborn Medicine under the DJFMH Department of Pediatrics. It was created in 2001 by then Medical Center Chief Dr. Ricardo B. Gonzales, and Dr. Socorro Mendoza was designated as the first Chair of the Department. She spearheaded the creation of the first Kangaroo Mother Care Ward in the country in 1999, and laid the foundation for the DJFMH Human Milk Bank in 2005. Dr. Mendoza and Dr. Wilfredo Santos started the Neonatology Fellowship Training Program which was accredited in 2004 by the Philippine Pediatric Society’s Section of Newborn Medicine. At this time, the Department Chair was Dr. Wilfredo Santos, and the Training Officer was Dr. Socorro Mendoza. The consultant staff was soon augmented by 4 additional neonatologists and the program accepted its first fellow-in-training. The Department consultants were prominent lecturers on Lactation Management and Kangaroo Mother Care, and played a major role in the development of the Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care training module of the Department of Health.
In February 2006, the consultant staff grew in number, allowing the Department to accept more fellows. A neonatology consultant, Dr. Melissa Juico, was designated as Director of the DJFMH Human Milk Bank when it was established in 2006. In December 2011, all 4 neonatology fellowship training institutions underwent re-accreditation by the PSNbM Committee on Accreditation of Fellowship Training Programs, and DJFMH was accredited as Level 1A under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mary Christine D. Tumale and Training Officer Dr. Alma dela Merced. Upon re-accreditation in February 2015, the Department retained its Level 1A classification under the Chairmanship of Dr. Melissa Juico and Training Officer Dr. Ma. Lourdes S. Imperial. In the latest re-accreditation visit in 2018, the Program retained its Level 1A status under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mary Anne Ilao and Training Officer Dr. Alma dela Merced.
The present consultant staff is composed of 8 neonatologists - Dr. Melissa Juico, Dr. Mary Christine Tumale, Dr. Alma dela Merced, Dr. Mary Anne Ilao, Dr. Ma. Lourdes Imperial, Dr. Fay de Ocampo, Dr. Maria Vanessa Cenabre and Dr. Cherry Santiago. They are all trainers and seasoned lecturers and facilitators of DJFMH’s training programs. They are invariably involved in different capacities as neonatal health care resource persons in newborn care programs and projects of DOH, other development partners (WHO WPRO, UNICEF) and several NGOs (KMC Foundation, Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina, Inc). The consultants are also active officers and members of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine and the Perinatal Association of the Philippines. In recent years, the Department has been strengthened by the addition of an ophthalmologist, Dr. Jose Melvin Jimenez and pediatric subspecialists Dr. April Grace Berboso (Genetics) and Dr. Jemely Punzalan (Pediatric Nephrology). This year (2022), there are currently 7 fellows-in-training, and 4 incoming first year fellows.
The hospital which is a center of excellence for maternal and neonatal care has proven to be an outstanding breeding ground for neonatologists who become confident and more adept in establishing and implementing newborn care programs and policies that are the hallmark of DOH’s Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) strategy. This public health perspective complements our graduates’ clinical skills in the management of sick newborns, and many of the graduates have returned to the provinces and gone on to build up the government hospitals they have chosen to serve. At the other end of the spectrum, our partnership with Children’s Mercy Hospital initiated by Dr. Winston Manimtim in 2015 has provided our trainees and consultants with a glimpse of the ideal Level IV NICU set up that DJFMH can aspire to achieve in the future.
The New Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital
With the DOH’s modernization program, the 9-storey DJFMH building is currently under construction as part of the proposed tri-medical complex in the DOH headquarters, where San Lazaro Hospital and Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center are likewise located. In the next 5-10 years, it is strategically poised to expand from a 700-bed national maternity hospital into a 1000-bed capacity apex hospital for women, newborns and children’s health with functional specialty centers catering to reproductive health in general. An estimated PhP 3 billion has been allocated by the Health Facility Enhancement Program (HFEP) for the costs of infrastructure and medical equipment. DJFMH has also been recently earmarked by the Health Systems Development and Management Support Division of the Health Facility Development Bureau (HFDB) as an Advanced Comprehensive (AC) Specialty Center for Neonatal Care, with target date of implementation in 2024. The Department is looking forward to the new expansive NICU which will occupy almost half of the second floor of the hospital. Upon its completion, it will be able to provide the space and resources that are appropriate to cater to the overabundance of mothers and babies that is characteristic of Fabella Hospital. With the new NICU, we are hoping to provide the state of the art care that used to be synonymous only with the large progressive tertiary medical centers in the private sector.
Status of the Department of Newborn Medicine
The Department of Newborn Medicine (DNbM) was created in 2001 to streamline the operations of what is practically DJFMH’s biggest department in terms of patient numbers. Now on its 20th year, it has continued to gradually expand and grow (in terms of patient services, human resources and equipment), despite the restrictions imposed by the existing infrastructure. The hospital has long established prominence in the field of maternal and neonatal care by being a center of excellence and training despite being perennially beset by low resources, and the Department has contributed to this recognition by robustly implementing national newborn care programs and strategies laid down by the Department of Health. An oft-repeated phrase typically heard in other more abundantly blessed health facilities when it comes to these programs is “Kung kaya ng Fabella, kaya din dapat natin.” As the DOH ramps up the revitalization of government health care institutions, there is a huge potential for our Department to approximate the high level of patient services customary in large tertiary medical centers. This would also significantly enhance our Neonatology Fellowship Training Program such that our trainees will be able to experience working in an ideal NICU environment with optimum resources that would lead to better patient outcomes.
The hospital is now in the process of expanding its vision and mission, and is aiming to include reproductive health services aside from its traditional mandate of maternal and neonatal health care. The DNbM continues to uphold our department’s vision and mission, and we are aspiring to strengthen other essential elements of health care beyond simply clinical management. As we transform into a sub-national advanced neonatal care center, it is important for us to also ensure equitable provision of health care services to the more critically ill newborns by engaging the lower level facilities in efficient service delivery.
The Department of Neonatal Medicine shall be the nation’s premier center of excellence and innovation in neonatal care, training and research
The Department shall provide optimum neonatal care, consistent with established standards through:
- A competent and compassionate medical and paramedical staff
- A fully accredited training program in neonatology for physicians and nurses
- Innovative researches, which are responsive to the needs of its clients
- An active community involvement in neonatal health care
Thereby ensuring the quality of services rendered to every newborn delivered in the institution and its neighboring communities.
- Newborn Medicine Fellowship Training Program
- Kangaroo Mother Care Program
- Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
- Essential Intrapartum and Newborn Care
- Newborn Resuscitation Program Ph+
- Care for the Small Baby
- Expanded Newborn Screening
- Hearing Screening
- Retinopathy of Prematurity