On January 2010, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated a new hospital in Iloilo — the Western Visayas Sanitarium in Sta. Barbara town.
It has a 50-bed general ward, two operating rooms, a delivery room, a tertiary laboratory, a pharmacy, state-of-the-art emergency rooms and radiological services.
Its mission is to provide quality, prompt, accessible, patient-friendly and cost-effective tertiary health services, training and research in medical and surgical cases, with a special emphasis on leprosy and other skin diseases.
Its vision is to be the center of excellence in providing tertiary care and to serve as leprosy and dermatology referral center in Western Visayas.
Its first hospital chief is Dr. Annabelle Pabiona-de Guzman, who is amply equipped with educational qualification and a wide range of experience in the practice of medicine and hospital management.
She earned a master’s degree in medical education from England and another master’s degree in hospital administration from the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila.
She had residency training in the UP-Philippine General Hospital, a diplomate in Family and Community Medicine, and a fellow in the Fellowship in Infectious Diseases.
She also passed up to Third Level of CESO Assessment and has been a scholar for many times.
Her wide range of experience includes being chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine and chief of the Out-Patient Department of the Western Visayas Medical Center.
Dr. de Guzman had also been an active staff in the Iloilo Mission Hospital, a visiting staff in the St. Paul’s Hospital, Saviour International Hospital and the Iloilo Doctors Hospital, and a professor at the Central Philippine University-College of Medicine.
This new hospital in Sta. Barbara is actually the former West Visayas Treatment Station for Hansen (leprosy) patients.
It was converted into a general hospital with a leprosarium as a special feature.
It was first established in 1927 in a one-hectare lot donated by Doña Rosario Gonzaga Jesena. The lot was later expanded to 22 hectares through government purchases.
The treatment station’s first chief was Dr. Goita, who was assisted by nurse Gil Leonides, and was later joined by nurse Adriano Soliva.
During the war, many inmates fled to the mountains and was being singlehandedly cared for by Soliva.
The spiritual concern of the inmates was attended to by the Baptist missionaries under Rev. Fr. Alberto Franco starting 1932.