“Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” – Winston Churchill
Our doctors are falling one by one in these challenging times, fellas, which President Duterte said is “the best time to die for one’s country.” Never so in peace time that such waste of talent plagued the country’s medical world where the best and most talented frontliners fall to save as many lives as they could.
Dr. Oscar Tinio, former president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) said that most doctors got the disease because “we lacked the necessary protective equipment to be used against it. And I think some doctors also felt invincible. … But basically, I think we failed to protect ourselves — completely.”
Some patients also have “lied to doctors about their travel history or whether they were exposed to the virus.” He said they could well have transmitted the deadly virus to their attending physician. The PMA is pushing a message on social media encouraging patients to be truthful: “If you lie, I die.”
Tinio said that his 100-bed St. Dominic Medical Center in Cavite has only enough personal protective equipment and that the full-body suits his staff must wear “are very expensive.”
He said the doctor-to-patient ratio currently stands at 1:40,000, far from the ideal 1:10,000.
The physician also disclosed that the Philippines doesn’t have enough nurses, as they would rather work “somewhere else.” Metro Manila has an over-concentration of physicians. However, remote areas all over the country have “relatively few doctors.”
Reports also said that shortages are forcing hospitals to assess whether they can afford to stay open. Some major hospitals have already closed because staff had to be quarantined and because they didn’t have enough facilities. Premier Metro Manila private hospitals are already filled to capacity and turning people away.
Another alarming local media report said that that data from the University of the Philippines predict the virus will infect 660,000 to 1.4 million people in the country, with 80% of cases in Metro Manila.
Our fallen doctors who succumbed to the deadly disease are the following.
1. Dr. Greg Macasaet (Manila Doctors Hospital) is described as “one of the best anesthesiologists” in the Philippines. His doctor wife, Evelyn, was also diagnosed with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is currently in hospital. The Macasaet couple have a son with special needs.
In case he won’t make it, he wrote: “If Ateng (Evelyn) survives, then my wish for her and Raymond for a long and happy life will bear fruition. Raymond, however, needs financial and emotional care for the rest of his life! Something I may no longer be able to fulfill! It is my fervent hope that all of you may assist the rest of my family in our most difficult times!”
2. Dr. Rose Pulido (San Juan de Dios Hospital) is described as a visionary and innovator and very compassionate. She always taught resident doctors to be always compassionate to patients. Many of her patients flooded tributes for her in the social media. One netizen posted: “Her expertise extended my mother’s life. My mom’s still alive today. Thank you for your service.”
3. Dr. Israel Bactol (Philippine Heart Center), only 34, is an adult cardiologist. It’s not clear how he got infected as he reportedly did not have any direct contact with any COVID 19 patient. The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, where he is an alumnus, remembered him as a scholar doctor to the barrio with hunble beginnings.
4. Dr. Raul Jara (Philippine Heart Center)is considered as one of the country’s top cardiologists and is regarded as “one of the great pillars of cardiology.”
“His memory is not defined by how he died but how he lived,” said the Philippine Heart Center.
5. Dr. Henry Fernandez (Pangasinan Medical Society), who at 77, supposedly got the disease from a visitor from abroad during his visit to Manila. He died at the Lung Center of the Philippines last March 20.
6. Dr. Marcelo Jaochico is the Pampanga Provincial Health Chief. He was a Jose P. Rizal Memorial awardee and served as doctor to the barrios in Calanasan, Apayao for at least 16 years.
7. Dr. Sally Gatchalian is the president of Philippine Pediatric Society and also the Assistant Director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Her death was announced by her sister-TV host Ruby Rodriguez.
“We will only remember you with happy memories, laughing and sleeping,” Rodriguez wrote. “Be at peace and do not worry about us anymore. Have fun in Heaven! Love you so much!”
8. Dr. Leandro L. Resurreccion (Philippine Children’s Medical Center) who died after a 3-week battle with COVID-19, was described by the Philippine Children’s Medical Center as its “first fallen soldier in the battle vs. COVID-19.” He was a certified pediatric transplant surgeon at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Australia but he chose to stay in the country because there were no pediatric transplant surgeons in the Philippines.
9. Dr. Helen Tudtud (Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center) is a pathologist whose life was cut short after an 11-day battle against the disease.
10. Dr. Dennis Ramon Tudtud, husband of Dr. Helen Tudtud, is a Cebu-based oncologist who died three days after his wife, Dr. Helen Tudtud, died of the corona virus.
11. Dr. Nicko Bautista, 33, did not catch the virus, but he lost his life in a plane crash. He was accompanying a coronavirus patient in a medical evacuation mission to Japan.
12. Dr. Francisco Lukban was a geriatric cardiologist who practiced holistic healing of patients, great mentor and trusted and loyal friend to many. He was also a great saxophone player. He is greatly mourned by his Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines. His fellow doctors described him as a “colleague, mentor and friend to all.”
13. Dr. Marcellano Cruz (East Avenue Medical Center/Ospital ng Maynila) has been described by his colleagues as a “colleague, mentor and friend to all.”
14. Dr. Janet Liban, a cancer survivor, risked her life despite her “immunocompromised immune system.” She was a devoted doctor despite the risks she was facing.
To the families of these fallen heroes, our most profound condolences.
These hero-doctors will never be forgotten.