Tagum Bishop Medel Aseo (center) leads the blessing of the Christ the King Specialist Hospital with his predecessor, Tagum bishop emeritus Wilfredo Manlapaz (left) and Archbishop of Davao emeritus Fernando Capalla (seated) in attendance. (photo courtesy of Christ the King Specialists Hospital – CKSH Facebook Page)

A statue of the late Bishop Joseph W. Regan is unveiled during the hospital’s inauguration.

The Diocese of Tagum inaugurated the Christ the King Specialist Hospital (CKSH) at the site where its first hospital, founded 60 years ago, was established by its first bishop.

Tagum Bishop Medel Aseo, led the concelebrated Mass and blessing of the hospital on the optional memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Italian priest and founder of the Clerics Regular, Ministers to the Sick, famously known as the Camillians, patron saint of the sick, hospitals, nurses and physicians.

Archbishop of Davao emeritus Fernando Capalla, Diocese of Tagum Bishop emeritus Wilfredo Manlapaz concelebrated along with other priests of the diocese. Local city and Department of Health (DOH) were also present.

Originally founded by the first prelate-ordinary of Tagum, Bishop Joseph W. Regan, MM, DD in 1965, to serve the poor people of the then-undivided province of Davao, the hospital was later renamed in Regan’s honor after his death in 1994. After his retirement as bishop of Tagum in 1980, Regan continued to minister to the sick of the hospital until his death.

A statue of Regan, found in front of the hospital, was unveiled during the inauguration.

Msgr. Ulysses Perandos,Vice President of CKSH, said that Bishop Regan believed that the Church should take care of both the body and soul of the residents of Davao, be they Christians or not.

“Kauban pod ang pag atiman sa atong lawas,” he said. (We also need to take care of our body.)

Perandos added that hospitals became a component apostolate of the diocese – “to go and preach the Good News along with the healing”. “He [Regan] made it a priority to add a hospital in the mission of the Church in the diocese,” Perandos said.

Prior to reverting to its old name, the hospital operated for 28 years named Bishop Joseph W. Regan Memorial Hospital, under a joint agreement of the diocese with the doctors of the old Christ the King Hospital, with the diocese retaining ownership of the property. 

The diocese decided not to renew the contract . At the end of the partnership with the group of doctors who operated the Regan Hospital, the diocese decided to conduct major renovations of the hospital on July 1, 2022, forming a new corporation, Rex Medicus Corporation, to run the new hospital.

Msgr. Federico Mantica, Vicar General of the Diocese of Tagum and vice chair of Rex Medicus said that the diocese decided to revert the name of the hospital to its original name and titular of the diocese- Christ the King, the name that Regan chose for the hospital. 

Mantica added that as priests, they do not have the technical skills and business savvy to run a hospital, but that they hired professionals in the health services sector to help them run the hospital. Because of this, Fr. Allan Alindajao, the president and CEO of the hospital, is currently taking his Masters in Hospital Administration. 

Alindajao, who is also a canon lawyer, stressed that the hospital project got the approval of Pope Francis himself before it could proceed, stressing that canon law limits the powers of the local bishop to engage in business endeavors especially those that need a large amount of capitalization. He added that aside from a loan secured from the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the diocese, with the permission of the Securities and Exchange Commission, received additional funding via stock investments from private individuals to bankroll the project.

Lawyer Neil Jao, CKSH hospital administrator said CKSH is a Level 2 hospital, meaning the doctors employed by the hospital are specialists (either with a diplomate or fellowship training), assuring the public that they will receive expert care through the specialist medical professionals under their employ.

Dr. Ricardo Laganson, a surgeon and CKSH’s medical director, said the diocese has invested in the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment so patients “don’t have to go to Davao” for advanced medical treatment and procedures since these will be available in Tagum City. He added that the hospital will have specialists in cardiology/electrophysiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, endocrinology, orthopedic surgery, intensive care and emergency medical services.

Dr. Arthur Salvador, Emergency Medicine Specialist of CKSH said the hospital will offer emergency medical service to critically ill and acutely ill patients and pre-hospital care and that the ER staff are guaranteed specialists in emergency medicine.

When the diocese announced the hiring of hospital staff, CKSH president and CEO Fr. Allan Alindajao said the diocese tapped the 57 parishes and thousands of BECs in the entire diocese, to look for qualified and able applicants. Even though the country is experiencing a shortage in nurses, Alindajao said they immediately got a lot of applications from nurses.

He admits that even though the salary package they offer cannot compete with what hospitals abroad offer, they still received a lot of applications from locals. He is thankful that the nurses and other medical professionals choose to work with CKSH and share in the diocese’s mission. CKSH currently employs 162 employees in its payroll.

Alindajao added that even though they will employ non-Catholic employees and accept patients of different faiths, the hospital will be run in faithful adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

While awaiting its license to operate from the DOH, the hospital currently provides out-patient services through its laboratory and pharmacy. Its dialysis center currently caters 70 patients a day. Patients with guarantee letters from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office or the Office of the Vice President are welcomed in the dialysis center.

Alindajao assured that the poor can be assured that they would receive medical care especially during medical emergencies, staying true to the hospital’s motto of “Your Healing, Our Calling”. 

The Diocese of Tagum comprises the province of Davao del Norte (except the Island Garden City of Samal and the municipality of Talaingod, Davao del Norte) and Davao de Oro. It was created as a Territorial Prelature on Jan. 13, 1962 by Pope John XXIII with Regan as its first prelate-ordinary.  It was raised to the rank of a diocese on Oct. 11, 1980, by Pope John Paul II with Bishop Pedro Dean as its first bishop.  — Rommel F. Lopez