We would like to feature another awesome alumnus from the medical field who is at the forefront of fighting the COVID 19 pandemic,  GODWIN N. HERNAEZ, MD, MDM, FPSP, CESE of Middle Managers Class Batch 10-Binhi.  A Medical Specialist IV  recently appointed Head / Chairman of the Department of Pathology at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), Dr. Hernaez has been with the same institution  since 1989. 

When asked how it has been for Dr. Hernaez and VMMC since the pandemic started, he stated matter-of-factly, “nobody was prepared for it but we just had to quickly think of the best solutions to maintain best delivery of services given the limitations and restrictions set forth by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the management of emerging infectious diseases.” Kudos to Dr. Hernaez’s quick-witted and brilliant ways of addressing the challenges, he immediately re-organized the personnel in the Pathology Department and collaborated with other government institutions such as the Research Institute and Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the Lung Center of the Philippines for analysis of swab specimens.  A blessing later came  Dr. Hernaez’s way thru  a facility for  patients seeking to undergo the rRT-PCR test for  qualitative detection of COVID-19 infection.  As a senior  pathologist, he is responsible for providing accurate diagnostic information to the clinicians who would then come to a conclusion of the definitive diagnosis of the patient. “As pathologists, we cannot afford to make mistakes. The laboratory reports are evidence – based. We consider all aspects in interpreting what we see. It will be very unfair to the patient if we provide reports with errors”, opined Dr. Hernaez.

Just like any ordinary citizen, Dr. Hernaez said that doctors are not spared from feelings of fear and uncertainty. He strongly emphasizes the significance of the help and cooperation of every single person to stop Covid-19 from spreading any further. The safety and security of everyone at the hospital are of utmost priority and importance,  and so Dr. Hernaez astutely devised strict monitoring of the ins and outs of individuals at the VMMC, ensuring that there are protocols in place when entering the vicinity and exiting the gates. 

Dr. Hernaez reminisces how he started from the very bottom of the echelon for doctors in VMMC after graduating Doctor of Medicine at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical  Center (UERMMMC). He  was instrumental in making VMMC a trusted health ally for blood donation programs and projects. Long before the terms linkages and networking became trending words in the tech world, Dr. Hernaez already possessed the gifts of intelligence, charm, and organization to connect and establish partnerships with blood donors from the AFP personnel and the employees of Victory Liner who also provided the vehicle for VMMC staff for their blood donation drive and medical missions in the northern and southern parts of Luzon. Through his wit and negotiation skills, he was also able to establish lifelong partnerships for his blood donation projects with referred organizations such as Partas and 5-Star bus companies.

Dr. Hernaez’s Pathology Department presently has nine units, namely: Pre-Analytics , Blood Bank, Chemistry and Immunology, Hematology, Microbiology, Clinical Microscopy, Molecular, Out-Patient and Histopathology where he manages a total of 150 personnel working on a 24/7 shift. Remarkably, Pre-Analytics is an offshoot of his Capstone Re-Entry Project in PMDP.  Dr. Hernaez gladly shared the future of pathology at VMMC, “the direction is in molecular pathology where rRT-PCR will be a staple service and further technological innovations will ensue.” An expansion of the infrastructure has been envisioned; by 2022, the Drug Testing Facility will be the 10th unit in his department.

Dr. Hernaez humbly admits that PMDP played a very crucial role in his milestones.  He fondly recalls how the class benefited from the strict guidance but gentle assuages of their class director in moments of distress, the remarkable lectures of the faculty, the meaningful experiences of the class for their Sensing Journey, and most significantly,  the arduous Capstone Project  expedition. Dr. Hernaez views the completion of his Capstone Re-Entry Project (CP), entitled “Enhancement of Clinical Laboratory Pre-Analytic Phase” as the most challenging but fruitful. The fine collaboration he had with VMMC’s Information Technology (IT) experts led them to win numerous awards. His project  was cited for the Best Practices competition  by the Philippine Council for Quality Assurance in Clinical Laboratories (PCQACL) and lauded as best entry project by various private and state hospitals. He received memorable accolades and testimonial of thanks from representatives of Singapore, Hongkong, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and Africa during the 18th Congress of the Asian Network for Clinical Laboratory Standardization and Harmonization (ANCLS) in Seoul, South Korea in 2019 when he presented  his enhanced  Capstone Re-Entry Project – “Pre-Analytics: The VMMC Experience”. In the same year, Dr. Hernaez was also awarded the Outstanding Alumni in Governance and Career Advancement by the UERM College of Medicine Alumni Association, and the  Outstanding Leadership Award by Philippine Council for Quality Assurance in Clinical Laboratories ll. In recognition of his 25 years of service in VMMC, he was awarded the  Masigasig Award by the National Voluntary Blood Services Program of the Department of Health, and was acclaimed by the  Philippine Society of Pathologists for his contributions. Adding to the list of his accomplishments is his Career Executive Service Eligibility (CESE).

Having graduated from PMDP and now Head of the Department of Pathology in VMMC, Dr. Hernaez views this as his passport to accepting bigger responsibilities in the government.  He wishes to share the PMDP mantra he keeps close to his heart to this day: “Leading at a higher level means service above self. Leadership is about vision and responsibility, a commitment to achieving the goals for the sake of the common good.