IF IT took the UST Hospital (USTH) project management team eight months to construct the Benavides Cancer Institute (BCI) and three more months to make it fully operational, the same team believes that the P3 billion expansion project, which includes the construction of a 17-story hospital tower, can go full steam by October 2008.

The team, headed by engineer Danilo Ferrer, is now focusing on the next phase of the expansion project after the completion of the BCI, which comprises the first phase of the development plan.

The second to fourth phases of the USTH expansion includes the refurbishing of the fourth and fifth floors of the charity building, the high-rise tower and the podium.

“We are using the slab system that would allow us to finish an estimate of seven floors in two months,” Ferrer told the Varsitarian. “So by 2008, the entire expansion project will be fully operational.”

Tower and podium

According to the project management team, the USTH tower will house commercial stalls on the first floor, and the Eye, Dermatology and Hearing Institute on the second floor.

The planned Eye Institute seeks to pioneer in intraocular lens implantation and valve implantation for glaucoma in the country, while the USTH Hearing and Dizziness center is predicted to create a center of excellence in the treatment of hearing and balance disorders.

The third to 10th floors will house the physicians’ offices, while the nursing area and rooms for the medical tourism program will be housed at the 11th to 17th floors.

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“Four floors will be allotted for the medical tourism program. Some 75 hospital beds will be provided for our international patients,” Ferrer said.

An added feature of the tower is the helipad, which is expected to be used for VIP or emergency cases.

The entire tower is expected to be finished by October next year.

On the other hand, the podium building right beside the tower is projected to rise by December 2008. It consists of seven floors and will house different offices and facilities. The chapel, dietary clinic and the ancillary will be the major facilities on the first floor while different specialized institutes will be housed in the second to third floors of the podium building.

The next two floors are for the executive offices while the remaining floors are for the delivery, recovery and operating rooms. Parking spaces will occupy one-fourth of the building.

Bad site?

But critics said the plan for the USTH tower will violate the architectural design of the University, whose centerpiece is the UST Main Bldg.

“Looking at UST as a heritage site, we should take into consideration the historical significance of the Main Bldg.,” architect Clarissa Avendaño, assistant director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences, said.

However, Ferrer denied that the USTH tower plans would have any architectural conflict with the other buildings in the University.

“Architect Yolanda Reyes, the one responsible for the architectural design of the tower, is a former dean of the College of Architecture. She would know very well if there is an architectural conflict with regard to the design of the University,” Ferrer said.

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Another possible problem is the traffic that may build up along Lacson St. due to the hospital expansions.

“I see no problem as long as the hospital provides a new loading and unloading point along Lacson,” Security Office head Clemente Dingayen said. “What worries me is when the paypark is preferred by the hospital personnel and patients to park their vehicles. Lacson will easily clog up since more cars will be entering the vicinity.”

As the University moves toward 2011, the USTH also plans to expand and build satellite hospitals outside Manila.

“There are still no directives about the satellite hospitals,” Ferrer said. “All I know is that they are planning to have four or five more within the country; we will finish the expansion project first before the said hospitals.”

“But rest assured that before 2011, the satellite hospitals will be operational by then,” he added.

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