RURAL health centers are more than just buildings—they’re lifelines, offering a comprehensive range of health services at a minimal cost or even free to the most vulnerable. The presence of dedicated healthcare providers, who truly grasp the local struggles and share the community’s cultural fabric, imbues these centers with a profound sense of purpose, fostering genuine trust.
Underscoring its firm belief in the power of health centers to improve lives and strengthen communities, the SM group’s foundation has recently unveiled the revitalized Santa Cruz Rural Health Unit (SCRHU). This marks a significant milestone for the organization, representing its 200th health center nationwide.
Service amidst challenges
SCRHU lies in the bustling landscapes of Laguna province, serving nearly 140,000 residents. Its reach extends beyond the immediate community, welcoming those from neighboring municipalities, primarily from low-income households.
For nearly a decade, Dr. Elmina Montesa has been the guiding force behind the old SCRHU. For years, she and her fellow health workers continued to extend services amidst the cramped spaces, inadequate facilities, and timeworn structure.
“Marami kaming programa na hindi namin malagyan ng lugar kasi kulang ang space kaya’t naghahagilap kami kung saan ito ipu-pwesto.
Minsan, dahil sa challenge ng space, napapaisip kami kung sa labas na lang ba namin gagawin ang ibang programa. May kakulangan din po sa furniture noon,” she shared.
“Napupuno po kami lalo na pag may diabetic clinic—puno sa labas. Bagamat may tent, hindi sapat ito lalo na kapag umuulan. Hindi namin sila mapapasok dahil wala silang pu-pwestuhan. Hindi namin mai-provide ang comfort na nararapat para sa mga pasyente,” she added.
Despite the challenges, Dr. Montesa and her dedicated team of health workers report for duty daily, their hearts set on serving the community, particularly the most vulnerable—because for them, public service wasn’t just a job; it was a calling.
“Iba ‘yung nararamdaman mong fulfillment sa trabahong ito. Napakasaya tuwing natutulungan mo ang pasyente at kita mo sa mga ngiti at mata nila na thankful sila dahil binigay mo sa kanila ang pangangailangan nila ng walang kapalit,” she said.