Dr. Rene de Grano: Embracing new horizons at 70


They say life begins at 40, a notion often embraced by those on the cusp of middle age, yet for Dr. Jose Rene de Grano, this adage seems to hold well into his seventies.

For Rene, as he is affectionately called by those close to him, the spirit of embracing new challenges remains vibrant at 70.

At the helm of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. which boasts a membership of over 500, he exemplifies a lifelong dedication to seeking new knowledge — a shining example for all to admire and emulate.

With over 40 years of experience as an OB-Gynecologist, Dr. Rene has recently returned to academia, marking a new chapter in his illustrious career.

As a faculty member at the School of Allied Health and Sciences of the National University — Lipa Campus, Rene shares his expertise with aspiring nurses, nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals.

“I decided to give it a try last year. I struggled during my first three semesters. I was taking seven classes. I didn’t expect it to be that challenging,” he said.

He juggles these responsibilities while maintaining his position as a consultant
OB-Gynecologist and a board member at Lipa Medix Medical Center, a private hospital he helped establish alongside his colleagues.

Dr. Rene acknowledged that he initially struggled to connect with the new generation of aspiring healthcare workers, but he overcame this challenge.

He noted that he has learned new things from the younger generation, a positive outcome of his interactions with them.

“At first, I was quite strict with them, but eventually, I learned from them as well. You start to adapt yourself to them; it’s no longer just them adapting to you,” he said.

PhilHealth holiday

After Dr. Rustico Jimenez’s sudden passing in 2020, who had been at the helm of PHAPi since 2007, Dr. Rene, the organization’s executive vice president, became the new president.

He knew he had some giant shoes to step into, but he embraced the challenge with all his heart and soul.

During the pandemic’s peak, Rene continued to prioritize the welfare of PHAPi’s members by conducting virtual meetings, all while fulfilling his duties as a family man and practicing his profession.

In 2021, still new to his position, he advocated for the interests of PHAPi members by issuing solid warnings against the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, or PhilHealth.

Dubbed the “PhilHealth Holiday,” Rene spearheaded the organization’s campaign to pressure the state health insurer to improve the efficiency of releasing reimbursement claims. This effort aimed to save private hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy.

He, likewise, cautioned that several PHAPi members were considering severing ties with the state insurer due to the slow release of payments for reimbursement claims.

Fortunately, this plan was not implemented as their members’ prayers were heard, and the state health insurer promised to enhance the efficiency of reimbursing unpaid claims.


While the enactment of Republic Act 11223, also known as the Universal Health Care Law, in 2019 was celebrated by many, Dr. Rene pointed out that private hospitals did not exactly treat this development as good news.

He enumerated why the UHC Law is a “double-edged sword” for private hospitals, highlighting its potential implications on their operations and sustainability.

He noted that, due to inflation, many people, including those from middle-income households, are increasingly seeking treatment at government hospitals.

“They tend to go to government hospitals because the costs are lower. They don’t vet whether a patient is needy or not,” he said.

“So, even those who seek treatment at private hospitals are now going to government hospitals because they tend to pay less there. That is one way to kill private hospitals.”

Dr. Rene also lamented the efforts to provide higher wages to healthcare professionals such as nurses.

“There is no way small private hospitals could afford to give them higher salaries. Government hospitals could do that because they have a budget under the law,” he said.

“Private hospitals are earning from the services they offer patients. Big hospitals such as level 2 and 3 hospitals could afford that because they have high-tech machines such as MRIs and CT scans; they can profit from it,” he added.

He continued, “How about level 1 hospitals? Those without sophisticated equipment? They will increase their hospitalization costs to subsidize the increase in the nurses’ salaries.”

Dr. Rene observed that numerous private hospitals face a pressing need for nurses but cannot hire them due to financial constraints.

To prevent the mass exodus of healthcare workers in the country, the PHAPi chief proposed that the government subsidize private hospitals to equalize nurses’ salaries.

What retirement?

Dr. Rene is nowhere near thinking about retirement. He is still seeking out new experiences and learning opportunities with excitement and enthusiasm.

“I guess that is the way if you are a doctor. Learnings should never stop,” he jested.

During his leisure time, Rene indulges in binge-watching action crime series and films, enjoying the adrenaline-pumping narratives and thrilling plot twists.

More recently, he discovered a newfound delight in watching Korean dramas, which are particularly popular with the younger Filipino audience.

He’s hooked on medical dramas like “Romantic Doctor” and “Chicago Med.” It’s Dr. Rene’s secret indulgence, showing that his passion for his job goes way beyond the clock.