WITH his father establishing the very first hospital in Region 2, Santiago, Isabela, Arturo Flores always knew he wanted to become a doctor. He never expected, however, that he would someday completely pursue the head of the family’s legacy.
“Our house was adjacent to a 10-bed house-turned-hospital started by my father, Adolfo Flores in 1950, along with my mother who was also a doctor,” the now successful urologist related to The Sunday Times Magazine. “I practically grew up in that hospital so I was naturally influenced to take up medicine. But I never thought of finally managing it, because I was always entirely different from my father.”
The second in a brood of 10, Flores admitted that he chose to practice in Manila and other nearby provinces rather than the Adolfo O. Flores Memorial Hospital because his ideas in running the hospital was then poles apart with his father’s. Instead, he worked to establish his own name, but was left without a choice but to take over his father’s responsibilities when the senior Flores died in 2003.
“My father was a general surgeon while my mother was an OB Gynecologist, an anesthesiologist, and a surgeon at the same time. Our 10-bed hospital never had any expansions because my father was a compassionate doctor who accommodated every patient requested for treatment by almost all politicians in our community for a very low fee,” Flores continued.
“There were many times when my father would allow poorer patient just to leave the hospital without settling their bills. He was even willing to pay the hospital staff with his own money.
“He was also the ‘godfather’ of almost all doctors there and the head of many organizations. In fact, he was called ‘Papa Doc’ by almost everybody in Santiago, Isabela. My father was truly a legend,” recalled Dr. Flores.
As the younger doctor finally appreciated and understood his father’s value in the community—the high regard and respect that generations of Isabeleños had for him—he eventually accepted the challenge of managing the small hospital he since renamed Flores Memorial Medical Center (FMMC).
Expanding its services to 35 beds, upgrading its equipment and facilities, as well adding a new center named Urology Breakstone Philippines Inc. (UBPI), Arturo Flores found a way to combine his practical and modern approach with his father’s legendary practice from the heart.
Aldolfo Flores must have known that there would be no one better than his second child to take his place in running the family hospital. After all, the younger physician had extensive work experience since becoming a doctor in 1971, following graduation from the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine, and his residency in General Surgery and Urology at the UP-Philippine General Hospital.
A hardworking doctor, Flores had a thriving practice at the Medical Center Manila (MCM), while managing 10 clinics in nearby provinces.
“Before when the traffic wasn’t this bad and I was still young, I used to hold clinic in several places like San Pablo, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan,” he chuckled. “I also used to be a member of the board of MCM and other medical organizations.”
Besides his thriving private practice, Flores was also able to establish a name in the fields of surgery and urology. He was one of the first 15 doctors in the Philippines who underwent training for laparoscopy, a kind of surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube inserted through a small incision in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs. It is a procedure that easily diagnoses cysts, adhesions, fibroids and infection.
“Now almost all surgeons know how to do this kind of procedure and I’m happy with that because it means progress in the medical field in the country,” he acknowledged.
When he took over his father’s hospital, he had no intentions of implementing a complete turnaround of the Flores Memorial Medical Center. His immediate goal was simply to make it sustainable.
“When I assumed the post as the manager of the hospital, I loaned my inheritance from my family to be able to buy new equipment like an X-ray, laboratory, etc. We also renovated the facilities and added more hospital beds to make it more sustainable. My family agreed with these improvements and even helped in expanding the hospital,” he said.
His brother, opthalmologist Alberto Flores, who is regular doctor at FMMC; and sister dermatologist Rowena Flores-Genuino, and other siblings supported his plans. “After three years, we were able to reverse the financial capacity of the hospital,” said Dr. Flores but admitted that they met challenges in expanding the hospital because of rigid government requirements.
As the regional director of the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines in Region 2, Dr. Flores worked in winning some requests to make it easier for hospital owners to implement improvements in their health facilities.
Moreover, in his medical career, Flores is also considered a pioneer. He is one the first doctors in the country who used Israel-made Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). This is a non-invasive treatment of kidney stones (urinary calculosis) using an acoustic pulse, and with it, he established Urology Breakstone Philippines Inc.
“I was one of the doctors who set up and used the first compact machine in the country, particularly in Mary Chiles Hospital, Flores expounded. “In November 2015, we acquired a P15-million state-of-the-art Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy with German technology from Dornier, a sister company of Mercedes Benz, to establish the first Urology Breakstone Philippines Inc. center in Region 2, an extension of Flores Memorial Medical Center. This machine is the preferred brand of many urologists. We officially opened the center on December 17, 2015.”
Securing a license from Department of Health in the first week of January for the new urological procedure, Dr. Flores is now busy promoting the very modern clinic.
“I have doctor partners and investors in this endeavor because after studying its sustainability in Region 2, we discovered there are many kidney patients around the area because of salty eating habits,” he imparted.
The growing population in Region 2 was also a contributory factor in setting up the center, which according to the doctor, may in turn be his own legacy in his father’s beloved town of Santiago.
Now that the hospital is slowly reaping the fruits of their labor and slowly earning profits for future expansion, Flores has enrolled at St. Joseph College to take up Masters in Hospital Administration, albeit almost 70 years old.
“Managing an old hospital with almost zero profit was a challenge to me and my siblings but because my father invested a legacy of compassionate caring, the hospital earned an immeasurable treasure of credibility and love from those he accommodated in the hospital. We also believe that we have a long way to go to save that legacy,” concluded Dr. Flores.