By: Carla P. Gomez
(This feature story was first published in Visayan Daily Star, June 27, 2017)
A Calatrava resident, who began suffering from arthritis when he was 15-years-old, became knocked kneed with a hunched back in his 40s.
“From a height of 5 feet 5 inches tall I became a short man as my body began to deform and the pain in my knees worsened,” Rolando Lim Padrinas, now 49, said.
“The pain was so bad, I could barely walk,” Padrinas said.
His wife, Belen, said she would cry because it was difficult to accept what was happening to her husband.
The couple earn a living from a small store in their house, they said.
After 32 years of living with pain and deformity, Padrinas said in 2015 he was referred to Dr. Ramon Gustilo, a world-renowned Negrense orthopedic surgeon who invented the Axis Knee System.
Gustilo diagnosed Padrinas to have rheumatoid arthritis with severe Valgus deformity, and recommended that he undergo total knee replacement in both legs.
The doctor then performed knee replacement surgery on Padrinas in April and July of 2015 at the Pablo O. Torre Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City.
Padrinas said the replacement of both his knees restored him to his 5 feet 5 inches height. “I was no longer hunched backed, when I returned to Barangay Minapasok my relatives and neighbors were amazed at the transformation,” he said.
Today he walks without the aid of a cane, he said.
“Now I can stand on my feet for three hours straight unlike before where I had to sit down every few seconds…Dr.Gustilo saved my life,” Padrinas said.
The Axis Knee System is a joint venture between Gustilo and the Department of Science and Technology, geared towards developing affordable quality knee systems for Filipinos, Gustilo said. The knee system invented by Gustilo is manufactured in a plant in Laguna.
The Axis Knee System is comparable if not better than western knee systems, said Gustilo, who developed Genesis 1 and 2 implants for Smith and Nephew USA. He has more than 15 patents awarded to him by the US government for his inventions in the field of orthopedics.
The Axis Knee System, which has patents issued in the USA for intellectual property rights, solves two problems in total knee replacements-mechanical axis alignment and patella femoral tracking, Gustilo said.
At the same time, it reduces the cost of a knee replacement by 50 percent from P100,000-P120,000 to P60,000 without sacrificing quality and material requirements, Gustilo said.
The instrumentation is simple and easy to use by orthopedic surgeons without having to undergo fellowship programs for one year. They can learn perform knee replacement surgery in 5 – 7 days, he added.
Another patient whose life has changed after having both her knees replaced by Gustilo in July 2016 is Silveria Geronimo Dereza, 70, of Barangay Tortosa, Manapla, Negros Occidental.
She said her left knee began to deform, it appeared like a C. The left side of her body became shorter than the right, and walking became very painful, sometimes she would faint.
Medicines could not stop the pain and she began to suffer from high blood pressure, she said.
Today Dereza, who runs a fishing business, attends to her small store and does household chores, can stand up straight.
Cecilia Guatelara, 81, said she suffered from arthritis in her right knee that made it difficult for her to walk, and a neighbor brought her to Gustilo. However, it took her two years to decide to have an operation because she was afraid, she said.
But when she underwent the right knee replacement operation 10 years ago to her surprise she did not feel any pain, just a little discomfort, and she was walking three days after, Guatelara said.
“I am very active, I don’t live in a sedentary life, the operation saved me from ending up in a wheelchair, my activities are back to normal,” she said.
Her business brings her to Hong Kong several times a year, which requires a lot of walking, Guatelara pointed out.
Guatelara said Gustilo is not only very professional, he has very good bedside manners, so she has brought a lot of other patients to him for treatment.
Edna Flamiano Abaygar, 72, is a retired home economics teacher from Murcia, Negros Occidental.
She said in February her balikbayan friend went to Gustilo for a consultation, and she tagged along. At the time she was suffering from excruciating pain in her right knee that made it difficult to walk and ended up having a checkup, too.
By April she decided to undergo knee replacement surgery even if she was afraid because “I want to enjoy the remaining years of my life,” Abaygar said.
Three days after surgery she could walk, she added.
Alicia Santiago Gustilo, 75, a retired nurse from Manapla who used to work in California, had both her knees replaced in November 2016, too.
Twenty years ago, the cartilage in her right knee was removed because there was a section that was torn and she was warned that the outcome would be that she would eventually suffer from arthritis, she said.
Last year she sought Dr. Gustilo’s help because her right knee was very painful, she had difficulty walking and she was beginning to feel pain in her other knee.
Dr. Gustilo recommended that she undergo bilateral knee implants on both knees.
Now she can walk normally and can get anywhere on her own, Alicia Gustilo said.*
Automatic PhilHealth benefits to non-members
PATIENTS admitted in government hospitals who are non-registered members of PhilHealth are now entitled for automatic availment of benefits.
PhilHealth Point of Service (POS) program provides for hospitalization benefits to patients who are confined in a ward accommodation of government hospitals and found to be not members or dependents in PhilHealth.
“We hope to capture the remaining members of the population who still do not have access to the medical benefits afforded by PhilHealth especially at the point where they are to avail of medical services”, said Lourdes F. Diocson, Head of PhilHealth in Western Visayas.
Starting July 1 confinement, patients who are not yet members of PhilHeath will be referred to the Medical Social Welfare Officer (MSWO) of the hospital to determine their financial status, whether financially incapable or financially capable to pay for PhilHealth premiums and are immediately registered to ORE (Onsite Rapid Enrolment) system installed in the hospital.
Identified poor patients (financially incapable) are automatically entitled to avail of benefits including the “no balance billing” which guarantees no out-of pocket expense to be shouldered by members on top of PhilHealth benefits.
On the other hand, patients who have the financial capacity are registered as Informal Sector members and are required to pay an annual premium of P2,400.00 prior discharge to instantly avail of PhilHealth benefits which include All Case Rates In-patient and Out-patient services and catastrophic conditions under the Case Type Z benefit packages.
For subsequent confinements, POS poor patients may avail of benefits until December 31, 2017 while financially capable patients who opted to pay the premium contribution are allowed to avail of benefits within 12 months from the first day of confinement.
Diocson added that confinement in private facilities will be compensated only when referred by a government hospital, where assessment and enrolment in POS was initially done.
She also reminded existing members to ensure religious payment of the required contributions to continually avail of PhilHealth benefits.
An amount of 3 Billion Pesos was appropriated by the government in order to pay for the actual cost of availment of POS patients under the General Appropriations Act of the Fiscal Year 2017. (PRO-6/Public Affairs Unit)