In 1933, Bicol Medical Center started as a 25-bed provincial hospital in a vintage rented residential Spanish house at then Mabini Street, now Penafrancia Avenue under the leadership of Dr. Francisco Gomez. Facilities were extremely inadequate that the hospital was closed in 1936. The Camarines Sur Provincial Government then subsidized a private hospital owned by the late Dr. Arsenio Imperial to fill the need for a provincial hospital but admissions were limited.
The year 1940 marked a milestone in the annals of health care in Camarines Sur. The blueprint of the present hospital was finalized that year and construction began. A sprawling 150,000-square-meter, 1-story-hospital-building was finished in 1941 but the Japanese invaded during World War II and the hospital never got to be inaugurated. It was looted by both Japanese soldiers and Filipino opportunists leaving the building completely bare. Nevertheless, the hospital operated through sheer determination and perseverance of its staff amidst hardship, insurmountable obstacles and grave danger. The hospital was in full operation when it was converted into barracks for the Japanese. It therefore became target for American bombing and the hospital eventually was in ruins.
In 1945, under the auspices of the Philippine Civilian Affairs Unit of the American Government, the hospital managed to rise again. Resources were scarce and beds were made from available materials-the native bamboo.
In 1946-1947, the Institution became a recipient of the United States Reparation Forces for damages wrought by the war. With Dr. Ricardo de Castro as Chief of Hospital, facilities were improved and the hospital bed capacity was increased from 25 to 50 and then 75. He resigned in the immediate post-war era (1949). Dr. Salvador Ibanez succeeded him and under his term buildings were put up. These were the Chief’s Quarters, Resident Physician’s Quarters, Nurses’ Dormitory, Hospital Garage and the Laundry building.
In 1955, the first Nursing School in Bicol, the University of Nueva Caceres, School of Nursing, affiliated with the hospital. There was much to be done, Dr. Vicente Trinidad became Vice-Chief to Dr. Ibanez.
In 1959, the Out-Patient Department Building was constructed. The hospital continued to grow and the hospital bed capacity was also increased to 100 in the same year.
In 1961, the hospital was upgraded and authorized to operate on a 150-bed capacity. A Polio Department was constructed which eventually housed the Medical Ward. Care and treatment of mental patients on an out-patient basis was also provided for, although management was then, still under the direct supervision of the National Mental Hospital.
In 1970, the affiliation of the different schools of nursing and midwifery was approved and medical interns were accepted. This facilitated increase in the hospital bed capacity to 200. More construction ensued for the Pay and Medicare patients annex with the release of P1 million pesos by the Ministry of Public Works and Highways in 1975.
By 1977, the Pay Medical, Obstetrical and Pediatric patients including the Veterans and Medicare patients were transferred to the then unfinished quarter-portion of the new building. Simultaneously, the following were also constructed: the Administrative Officer’s Quarters, power house, metal water tank and the Pay Building for Contagious Diseases while the laundry building and Nurses’ dormitory underwent renovation.
In 1978, the hospital was designated the Provincial Hospital of Camarines Sur. Under the strong leadership of Dr. Olivia Dumlao-Gaerlan, thorough face-lift programs like beautification of the premises and intensive cleanliness drive were implemented. Dr. Gaerlan enforced personnel discipline and started the residency training programs by recruiting medical specialists as consultants. The first department to have anaccredited residency training was Surgery. She started the position paper to upgrade the hospital from Provincial Hospital to the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital. And in 1979, the hospital bed capacity was further increased to 250-beds.
In 1984, the integration of Don Susano J Rodriguez Memorial Mental Hospital (DSJRMMH), a 200-bed hospital in Cadlan, Pili as part of the Regional Teaching and Training Hospital increased the total hospital bed complement to 450. This resulted in budgetary constraints, shortage of personnel, limited equipment and minimal infrastructure outlays. With the implementation of EO No. 851 which called for integrated health and hospital services, a provincial hospital in Camarines Sur distinct from the designated regional hospital was necessary. There being none, the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) also assumed its former role of provincial hospital in Camarines Sur and continued to do so.
In 1988, Dr. Felipe S. del Rosario became the Chief of Hospital. Pursuant to RA 7454 the Camarines Sur Provincial hospital was converted to Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital. However, the designation as a Regional Hospital had no corresponding increase in its appropriation. The Emergency Room Medical and Ancillary (ERMA) building was constructed during this period. In spite upgraded facilities as a regional hospital and trained health care workers, there was need for a well-equipped tertiary hospital where the poor and disadvantaged may seek medical consultation and treatment that otherwise may only be available in Manila.
On June 15, 1995, during the incumbency of President Fidel Ramos, RA No. 8053 lapsed into law. With an addition of 50 more beds, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital was now the Bicol Medical Center with a bed capacity for 500. It was also in the same year that the Center was designated as Center for Wellness under the leadership of Dr. Adan R. Eva. As a medical center, there were 120 more new and 42 reclassified positions. There was acquisition of basic as well as sophisticated equipments like a 2-Dimensional echocardiogram, stress test machine, laparoscopy and endoscopy sets, and others. Capital outlay was spent for the construction of various buildings such as the BMC Auditorium, Andaya Hall, Library, Pay Ward building, dormitories, Chief nurse and CMPS quarters, Laundry, Maintenance, and additional wards at the Psychiatric Department.
In 1998, three (3) more positions were added under the National Voluntary Blood Donations Program, increasing the manpower complement to 543. Nevertheless, this manpower is only 72% of the standard requirement for a 300-bed-capacity medical center. This did not include the manpower requirement of 198 personnel for a 200-bed mental ward. The BMC blood bank facility was built and inaugurated by Dr. Eva, with Dr Raymund Ibarrientos as head.
In June 30, 2001, Dr. Edgardo O. Esplana started his term as head of the hospital. The highlights of his accomplishments included the Repair of the ERMA Building, Repair/Rehabilitation of the Don Susano J Rodriguez Memorial Mental Hospital Duty Building & Doctors’ Quarters, Completion of Roofing of the ICU Building, Repair/Rehabilitation of BMC Morgue Building as well as the Rehabilitation/Separation of the federline of the Payward Building. Under the term of Dr Esplana, the BMC blood bank became operational. Infection Control was also re-vitalized and strengthened in 2002 with Dr. Esplana’s support of the initiatives of Dr Maria Estrella Litam as Infection Control Committee Head. The first of the emerging infectious disease, Systemic acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) came to BMC in 2003 but BMC and personnel were prepared to respond.
From October 2004-May 2005, Dr. Nestor F. Santiago, Jr. became Officer-In-Charge of BMC in his concurrent capacity as the Regional Director for CHD V. He allowed organizational reforms with his support of the 1st strategic planning initiative that crafted the BMC Mission and Vision. DAP consultants Mr and Mrs Llorin helped BMC and Dr. Maria Estrella B. Litam had the privilege to distill the collective thoughts, dreams and aspirations of rank and file in the strategic management plan of 2005. The Organizational Renewal Program also got started with BMC accountant Mrs Venus Bolivar as Chair and Dr. Litam as Vice-Chair for Culture Change.
Dr. Ruben R. Peñafiel became Medical Centre Chief in 2009. Plans for BMC modernization and increase in hospital bed capacity were conceptualized, as well as the possible entry of foreign medical residents. The BMC blood bank became even better with his support of Dr Ibarrientos’ initiatives. Blood reserves grew in stock with the active participation and support of barangays all over Camarines Sur. His achievements include the construction of the New OPD Building, additional 3rd Floor of the Payward, an Automatic Fire Sprinkler System and construction of cistern tank with deep well. Notably, Dr Penafiel constructed the first hospital based Oxygen Generation Plant in Bicol.
On April 1, 2011, Dr. Efren SJ. Nerva succeeded Dr, Penafiel. He conceptualized strategies for projects towards a new chapter of excellence in hospital management. He started quick fix projects to clean and improve the appearance of the wards. His theme song was “Staying Alive”. With partnership between the Bicol Medical Center and HAE Consultancy, the hospital passed the first stage of ISO-Certification in November 11, 2013. (ISO 9001:2008) and surveillance visit as supported by the management and employees. The DOH-HFEP modernization plan materialized under his term in 2013 with the Cancer Center, the Diagnostic and Emergency Center as well as an 8-storey General Ward Building. Dr. Nerva retired in September 4, 2015 after a 1-year extension of his term by Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin.
Dr. Maria Estrella B. Litam became Medical Centre Chief II after her installation on Sept 15, 2015. She inherited the task of completing the 3 unfinished buildings while starting on 2 more infrastructures, a new dietary building and a new ACIS at the Psychiatry wards in Cadlan. BMC passed its quality management system ISO audit and certification (ISO 9001:2008) on March 5, 2016 with no external consultant. More ISO trainings and capacity building seminars were attended by rank and file for transition to ISO 9001:2015. Systems and processes management was at the core of her leadership. Human resource development her strategy.