Department of Otorhinolaryngology
The Department of Otorhinolaryngology began as the Department of Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat (EENT) in 1957. It was headed by the late Dr. Macario Tan until his retirement in 1979. In March 1988, under the stewardship of Dr. Rene-Edgar Mendoza, the Department was recognized as a distinct specialty. Even in its infancy, the Department worked to achieve excellence in academics, research, health care delivery and concerned community medicine practice.
During the tenure of Dr. Remigio Jarin, the Chairman for one and a half years, the Philippine Board of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (ORL-HNS) granted the Department its first accreditation. This gave it the chance to share its experiences fully with its colleagues in this specialty. Significant original papers such as “Practical Method of Inserting a Blom Singer Voice Prosthesis” by Dr. Alejandro Opulencia and Dr. Elmo Lago, and “The Midfacial Degloving Approach” by Dr. Alejandro Opulencia, Dr. Teodoro Llamanzares and Dr. Elmo Lago, were presented during the regular conventions of the Society. UERMMMC also found time to fulfill its obligations to the community by starting its annual medical-surgical missions in Cauayan, Isabela and Samar.
In 1992, Dr. Teodoro Llamanzares became the Department’s Chairman, continuing the Department’s tradition of excellence in academics and service. It was under his leadership when Dr. Virgilio de Gracia joined the Department staff. As improvement was always sought, new surgical instruments, books and journals were procured. It was also during this time that the Department’s Audiology Unit went into operation. Four postgraduate courses were held under Dr. Llamanzares’s leadership: “Basic Concepts on Specific Topics in ORL,” “Facial Pains in ORL,” “Review Course in Otorhinolaryngology-HNS” and “Head and Neck Dissection Course.”
In 1993, Dr. Lily Sia-Vargas took over from Dr. Llamanzares. A year into Dr. Sia-Vargas’ chairmanship, Dr. William Lim joined the consultant staff. It was also this year that the PBO granted the Department full accreditation, subject only to regular re-inspection for renewal. Participation in the Society’s academic exercises continued, with papers presented in every ORL-HNS convention in the country, as well as the 15th World Congress of ORL-HNS held in Istanbul, Turkey. Department capabilities were further enhanced with the acquisition of Storz FESS instruments, Storz-Hopkins fiberoptic telescopes for nasal endoscopy and direct laryngoscopy, a Storz Telecam/Endovision unit, a Carl Zeiss OPMI ORL Operating Microscope and a Machida 3.5 mm flexible fiberoptic scope.
In 1997, Dr. Alejandro Opulencia took office. Assorted new equipment and educational material were procured. The Audiology Section, with its state-of-the-art Unity System™, was established in the UERMMMC Hospital in cooperation with Siemens and the American Hearing Center. It was to serve as a training ground in Audiology for its residents. Also, the ENT Diagnostics Office—housing the Department’s Storz endoscopic equipment, ENT examination room, microscope (for outpatient procedures) and computerized patient database—was opened. Two years into Dr. Opulencia’s leadership, Dr. Antonio Chua, Dr. Randy Canal and Dr. Elmo Lago joined the consultant staff. Yearly, the Department continued to hold postgraduate courses catering not only to ENT Specialists but also to other allied specialties.
In March 2001, the Department gained accreditation for another four years. In its continuing pursuit of academic excellence, the Department also produced a workbook and CD entitled “Techniques of ENT Physical Examination” for use by the medical undergraduates in their ENT modules. In 2003, the Department hosted the PBO’s annual Basic Course in ENT, which was well attended by ENT residents and recent graduates of the various accredited training institutions. It was also in 2003 when the paper entitled “Trigeminal Neuralgia as the Initial Manifestation of a Patient with Vestibular Schwannoma” by Warren Michael P. Lee Villanueva, MD, and Alejandro P. Opulencia, MD, garnered First Place in the interesting paper presentation contest at the PSO-HNS Mid-Year Convention held in Cebu.
After seven years of working for the continuing improvement of the Department, Dr. Opulencia handed over the reins to Dr. Virgilio R. de Gracia. He was the Residency Training Officer for several years before becoming the Department Chairman. In May 2004, he started his tenure with optimism and enthusiasm affecting all the members of the Department. The Department first underwent a team enhancement seminar to promote a more efficient and harmonious working relationship among its members, consultants and residents alike. From then on, there was no stopping the new leader of the Department. He implemented several new activities, one of which was the regular lectures given by known ENT specialists and other specialists in allied fields. The following shared their expertise on selected topics: Dr. Raymond Belmonte talked on Vertigo, Dr. Rebecca Feliciano on FEESS, Dr. Joselito David on Microvascular Flaps and Dr. Manuel Canlas on Allergic Rhinitis. The annual postgraduate course “Pediatric Laryngotracheobronchial Endoscopy” was held in cooperation with the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Henry Kun Kiaang Tan of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore was the main speaker. The joint efforts of both institutions were rewarded by the success of the project. The Department also acquired new instruments. A thru-cutting nasal forceps were purchased to augment the present Endoscopic Sinus Surgery set of the Department. Several fiberoptic light carriers were also added to our present Esophagoscopy and Laryngoscopy sets. Lastly, the Department now boasts of a complete Storz Mastoidectomy and Tympanoplasty sets.