By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
The number of doctors who have died due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has already reached nine, the former assistant secretary general of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) said Thursday.
Dr. Dennis de Guzman said that the latest fatality reported among medical workers was Dr. Sally Gatchalian, who was the president of the Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc.
The death of Gatchalian was announced through social media by her sister, actress Ruby Rodriguez, on Thursday.
“We will only remember you with happy memories, laughing, and sleeping, your johnson outfits and all,” Rodriguez said. “Be at peace, do not worry about us anymore. Have fun in heaven! Love you so much!”
A few days ago, Gatchalian’s condition was earlier described by her sister as “weak but stable.”
Gatchalian also served as assistant director at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine – initially the only testing facility in the country for COVID-19.
Other doctors who succumbed to COVID-19, according to De Guzman, are: Dr. Israel Bactol, cardiologist at the Philippine Heart Center; Dr. Rose Pulido, oncologist at San Juan de Dios Hospital; Dr. Greg Macasaet III, anesthesiologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital; Dr. Raul Jara, cardiologist at the Philippine Heart Center; Dr. Henry Fernandez of Pangasinan Medical Society; Dr. Marcelo Jaochico of Pampanga Provincial Health Center; Dr. Raquel Seva, OB-Gyne in Laguna; and Dr. Hector Alvarez of Novaliches District Hospital.
“Nalulungkot ang aming komunidad na doctor. Sunod sunod halos ang pagpanaw ng aming kasamahang doctor na lumalaban, front liners, dito sa COVID na ‘to,” De Guzman said on DZBB.
He expressed fear that the number of medical workers who will succumb to the disease might increase “because of lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs)” in many hospitals, including “the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and nearby hospitals.”
“Even our big centers, government hospitals ay kulang na kulang sa PPE, kaya kaming mga doctor lumalaban kami na parang walang proteksyon,” he said.
De Guzman disclosed that “many” medical health workers are currently intubated.
“Talagang kami sa Philippine Medical Association at sa lahat ng mga doctor ay nakikiramay sa lahat ng pamilyang naiwan nitong mga doctor. Talagang masakit sa aming kalooban na mawala sila pero yan ay nasa aming tungkulin, sa aming mga puso, na tumulong sa mga Pilipino dahil ito ay naka-atas sa aming mga puso,” he added. (With a report from Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz)