By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THE healthcare arm of conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is focused on acquiring more hospitals while staying open to creating a new one, its top official said.

“Definitely, the priority is mergers and acquisitions (M&A) because we feel that there is a huge opportunity in many parts of the country where we are not present, for acquisition. We will continue that,” Metro Pacific Health Corp. (MPH) Chief Executive Officer Harish Pillai said during a media roundtable in San Juan City on Wednesday.

However, Mr. Pillai said that MPH is not closing its doors on developing its own hospital as long as there is an opportunity for the company.

“We are opportunistic. Somewhere, if we feel that there is a density of the population but no good asset to acquire, then yes, we might think of a model for moving away from brownfield [hospitals]. You can actually put in the money to build a greenfield hospital, that is not an issue, But we have to look at the viability of operations,” Mr. Pillai said.

Brownfield hospitals are existing hospitals while greenfield hospitals are new ones.

“We are a growing company. We are committed to increasing the size of our portfolio. There are many provinces where we don’t have a presence. So definitely, we are exploring opportunities,” Mr. Pillai said.   

The company’s M&A roadmap considers the type of hospitals and locations for any possible acquisitions, he said.

“The required funding is available. Funding is never an issue,” he added.   

Mr. Pillai also disclosed that MPH is also looking to further tap outpatient centers amid increasing demand.

“When we look at our roadmap, I definitely see much more increase in our outpatient centers because that is what the market research is showing, that if given the choice, people would prefer to go to an outpatient center rather than come to a hospital,” Mr. Pillai said.   

Meanwhile, MPH Chief Nursing Officer Annabelle R. Borromeo said the company is holding its Project Nightingale, an initiative that seeks to empower Filipino nursing students and existing nurses in the country.

The three-part event, which will happen on Oct. 20, will include the national championships of the MPH’s Battle of the Nightingales (BOTN) inter-nursing school quiz-based competition; the awarding of the MPH nursing excellence award; and the MPH Healthcare Expo which would showcase the hospitals under the group. 

“We believe that Project Nightingale is the next step in our shared goal of nation-building, emphasizing our role in shaping the healthcare landscape in the Philippines. With this program, we are creating the foundation for the next generation of nurses, and developing our current crop of talents as well, in order to enhance the healthcare industry as a whole for years to come,” Ms. Borromeo said.

MPH has 22 hospitals under its network. Its latest acquisition is a majority stake in Antipolo Doctors Hospital, which was announced last week. Its other hospitals include Makati Medical Center, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center, and Davao Doctors Hospital.

MPH claims to be the largest group of private hospitals in the country.

The company’s private hospital network also features 26 outpatient care centers, two allied health colleges, and a centralized laboratory.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.