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Woman in Health: A medical center chief’s guide to people management and women’s health

The celebration of National Women’s Month brings about a big conversation on the importance of gender equality, the plights and gender-based struggles of women, and the promotion of women’s rights.
For Dr. Maria Lourdes Otayza, chief of the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMHMC), Women’s Month reminds her of women’s health – of the medical and other health services for female-specific health issues.
In an interview with the medical center chief, she shared her inspirational journey in the medical field and some relevant health tips for women.
Otayza has served in the MMMHMC for 21 years. 
Being put in a leadership role early on in her career, she recalled that it was a challenge for her to manage her workmates who are older than her.
“I had trepidations, I would constantly think paano yan – paano ko sila papagalitan o sasabihan? I was advised by my Regional Director, because I am naturally friendly, she told me na it’s okay to be friendly with my staff, it’s a good foundation, pero kapag panahon na na kailangan mo silang sabihan, I call them by their title para alam nila na seryoso na ‘yong usapan,” she shared.
Over time, she got her footing and established herself as a transformational leader of the biggest hospital in Ilocos Norte.
For Dr. Otayza, the key to becoming a transformational leader is knowing and understanding the culture of the workplace and the people in it so they can advance and grow together.
Under her leadership, the MMMHMC successfully passed the Proficiency Revalida of their Performance Governance System (PGS) journey and bagged the prestigious Gold Trailblazer Award on October 21, 2022.

During her interview on the Usapang Kababaihan: A Conversation on Women Empowerment and Individuality online series of the Philippine Information Agency-Ilocos Norte Information Center, she also shared some vital health tips for women.
For Dr. Otayza, early monitoring plays a key role in curing any illness, that is why she suggested that women get regular check-ups to ensure their health and wellbeing.
First, she said it’s ideal to get an annual mammogram, which is an X-ray image of the breasts and can be used either for breast cancer screening or for diagnostic purposes, such as to investigate symptoms or unusual findings on another imaging test.

USAPANG KABABAIHAN. Dr. Maria Lourdes Otayza, medical center chief of MMMHMC, serves as guest for the second episode of the Usapang Kababaihan: A Conversation on Women Empowerment and Individuality to share her journey in the medical field and to give health tips for women. (EJFG, PIA Ilocos Norte)

She also encouraged to check for lumps or any abnormality in the breasts after every menstrual cycle of a woman, and immediately consult a doctor if an abnormality is found.
Lastly, she encouraged women to not be intimidated by the pap smear test, which is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women.
The MMMHMC also offers assisted health and medical services to women in-need in the province.
“An empowered Ilokana is someone who is able to inspire others to do what needs to be done, as a group. In that way I can say that I am empowered because I guess if I am able to bring my team from 2002 to 2023 and we’re a lot better off now, we’re doing our job well,” she said.
With years of knowledge and experience up her sleeve, the medical center chief has certainly left a big mark in the health sector of the province, and she will continue to serve as an inspiration to women everywhere – a true embodiment of an empowered Ilokana. (JCR/AMB/EJFG, PIA Ilocos Norte)

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Emma Joyce Guillermo

Information Officer 1

Region 1

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