The Operating Room Assistance Program, or “Project OpeRA”, is one of the Fraternity’s flagship service projects. Primarily a medical and surgical services project, Project OpeRA aims at creating ways and means for indigent pediatric patients who require major operation to receive quality and timely surgical interventions.

Centered on the ideals of the Fraternity to advocate and render service that moves and empowers, Project OpeRA involves more than just providing financial support to indigent patients but more so in bridging the gaps of inequity that have rendered quality healthcare inaccessible to these types of patients despite seemingly adequate available resources sans payments only for profit. Through the efforts of the resident student body of the Fraternity, project OpeRA provides financial, logistics, communication and information support to patients and their families to allow them access to resources such as expert doctors providing free services, discounts and charity donations from suppliers, monetary support from donors and foundations, blood from blood banks, charity beds, operating room usage and staff services from the hospital and many more to ensure that those who greatly need help are brought closer to those who are willing to give it.

Since its conception in 2007, OpeRA has provided assistance to near a hundred indigent pediatric surgical patients of the PGH through access to financial support, procurement of surgical needs and post-operative medications, and coordination with the doctors and the hospital administration and OR facilities. Recognizing that there are a lot of patients in PGH that are in dire need of medical aid, the Medical Social Services of PGH and the Fraternity select only the most deserving patients. Criteria for chosen beneficiaries include the patient’s prognosis, cost of treatment, and financial capacity. Upon selection of the patient, the Fraternity through OpeRA, commits to provide all pertinent assistance such as financial and logistics support for pre- and post-operative procedures and medications.

The project was conceived with knowledge that early intervention affects the quality of life and the future of young patients more significantly than those of an adult. The Fraternity strongly believes in the empowerment of children and is committed in helping them rise above the challenge of their disease and allow them to live a fruitful, unhindered, and meaningful childhood in the hopes that they soon become productive members of society.

 


 

How Project OpeRA came about

Like all great things, Project OpeRA was born from a simple idea backed by an unquenchable, and most often foolish, passion to make a difference. Conceived in the latter part of 2007 by then medical clerk (4th year medical student) Brod Melvin Valera while on his tour-of-duty at the pediatric wards, the idea came to mind when Valera was finally fed up with the stark differences in the things he learned in the classroom to what was practiced in the PGH (and by extension to the rest of the Philippines).

Despite the dictum that the hallmarks for better recovery from disease and improved quality of life came from timely and appropriate medical or surgical interventions, the wards were crowded by overdue surgical patients who could not be operated on due to lack of resources. These pediatric patients are thus indefinitely confined to their beds, unable to move due to their massive hernias and overdue colostomies, who often eventually succumb to life-threatening hospital infections. Often the situation is complicated by the overstaying, further draining patient resources due to compounding expenses and loss of income from leave from work, forming a vicious cycle that traps the patient in the hospital, draining hospital resources and unjustly robs other patients the opportunity to be admitted at the PGH.

Inspired by the many surgical missions conducted by the Fraternity’s distinguished alumni here in the Philippines and abroad, Project OpeRA was a challenge taken up by the resident student body of the Fraternity to address the distressing situations faced by the surgical pediatric patients by organizing its own line of surgical missions without having to wait after decades of training and private practice to start giving back to the community. Soon the idea became a proposal then a full-pledged project as the resident brods got busy inviting doctors (initially from alumni brods but now also from doctors from the sister sorority as well as colleague surgeons of the alumni); pooling money from proceeds from the Fraternity’s fund raising projects, sponsors and donations from alumni and donors; striking deals with suppliers for surgical supplies and medications; and coordinating with hospital staff and administration for the use of the ORs.

The Fraternity first partnered with the Section of Pediatric Surgery of the Department of Surgery of UP-PGH to do herniotomy and hydrocelectomy missions at least once a year.

On May 23, 2009, the Fraternity under OPERA and in coordination with the Section of Pediatric Surgery at the PGH conducted a landmark herniotomy and hydrocelectomy mission. On that day, a total of 28 pediatric indigents, one of the biggest one day mission at that time, were given the opportunity to live more normal lives with the successful removal of their hernias or hydrocoeles.

As more people heard of the project, more donations were given to the Fraternity and so in 2011, aside from the annual herniotomy and hydrocoeloectomy missions, the Fraternity decided to expand OpeRA and partnered with the Section of Pediatric Cardiology for patients with heart defects, the Section of Neurosurgery for patients with hydrocephalus, and the Section of Plastic Surgery for patients with cleft lip and/or cleft palate.

On August 6, 2011, as part of the celebration of Buwan ng Pagkalma, the Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity sponsored the successful operation of six patients with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) under the leadership of pediatric cardiologist and brod Dr. Jonas Del Rosario. Student Brods, along with some medical students were given an opportunity to observe this surgical procedure and enhance their skills in physical examination of patients with cardiac abnormalities.

On February 09, 2013, beneficiaries of Project OpeRA participate in the seventh instalment of Camp Braveheart for the first time. Camp Braveheart is a project of the fraternity with the Philippine Heart Association to help post-surgical patients transition to a life of hope, vision, and fruitful experience. This has given Project OpeRA the opportunity to provide long term support to its beneficiaries.

The project also opens up great opportunities for learning and experience for the student brods, as they are encouraged to observe and assist in the operation themselves. It is also a perfect opportunity to inculcate in a young Phi brod, the spirit of service, by having the alumni brods who are successful in their own chosen fields give their time and service as prime examples and make sure that this project and other worthwhile projects will continue and expand.

 


 

The Beneficiaries

Selected through a thorough screening process in coordination with the Philippine General Hospital’s Medical Social Services, pediatric patients aged 7 and below from all over the nation in need of surgical intervention that possess neither the resources nor the means for such financially taxing procedures are considered eligible beneficiaries of Project OpeRA.

These kids are basically given new leases on life without cost. Sparing not a single centavo for the betterment of our beneficiaries, the Fraternity shoulders any and every fee pertinent to the treatment, be it the patients’ pre-operative preparations or post-operative care. The kids will be placed under the care of physicians considered to be at the forefront of their expertise, each waiving the triviality otherwise known as the professional fee, out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. Moreover, their follow-ups and checkups are also being taken care of by the Project OpeRA.

Project OpeRA is also linked with other Fraternity projects like Empowerment Through Mobility (ETM) if the post-operation child needs a wheelchair. It is also linked with Camp Braveheart, an annual event wherein children who are heart surgery survivors are engaged in a day of fun-filled activities with the goal of raising awareness that their heart conditions are not hindrances in reaching their full potential while their parents were informed through lectures and talks on how to properly take care of their children. In addition, children in need of surgery under the custody of ABS-CBN’s Bantay Bata 163 are also be eligible to Project OpeRA. The Fraternity has been in partnership with Bantay Bata through providing for the medical needs of these children.

 

 

 

 

Established in August 1933 by the UP College of Medicine's best medical students, the PHI KAPPA MU (Fraternity of the College of Medicine) continues to uphold its tested tradition of Excellence, Leadership, Service and Brotherhood in the College, University and in our country.

Through the Fraternity's ideals and pillars, her Loyal Sons continue to lead, innovate and excel in the practice of medicine worldwide and in preserving the honor and integrity of the medical profession.

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