The first day at the hospital concluded with an inaugural welcome from some of the key organizers of this trip. It began with a visit from Governor Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra of Palawan. Governor Mitra highlighted that healthcare is important here because in addition to serving thousands of its citizens, Coron is the leading municipality for tourism in Palawan – and tourists also look for hospitals here in case of emergencies. He gave a warm speech that conveyed his gratitude to WSF for the adoption of the Coron District Hospital that includes donating essential medical equipment to sustain the hospital long after the mission leaves. While healthcare in Palawan has always been a priority, Governor Mitra said, “There is still a lot more to do and a lot more to accomplish, especially in heath, and this mission is a very big step towards attaining that goal. Of course, you will be operating on about 200-250 patients for the next few days, but the equipment that you brought today will be of help and assistance to us for our lifetime. I don’t know how I can express our gratitude, but in Tagalog, it’s ‘Maraming salamat po.’ Thank you very much!”
WSF founder Dr. Domingo Alvear emphasized the exclusivity of this medical mission trip. In his speech he says, “This is the first time that you are going to find a collaboration among the Philippine and the American surgeons, physicians and nurses in equal number.” Today, the nurses and doctors from Manila will be arriving to Palawan to assist with this mission trip. Dr. Beda Espineda, a pediatric surgeon from Manila and former liaison for medical missions with the Philippine College of Surgeons, said, “Many times, we go to provinces and rural areas to perform surgical missions. But there comes a point in your life when you want to serve people in a more people in a more sustainable way…not come and go.” Through this adopted hospital model with a fully functioning OR facility, along with support from entities including all branches of the Philippine government, the Philippine College of Surgeons, Philippine Anesthesia Association and the Philippine OR Nurses Association, a channel is being created to bring Philippine surgeon specialists from big cities to the Coron area on a regular basis. It is the hope that collaborating with local medical professionals will support a longer-term sustainable healthcare through this model.