‘Bagong Bayani’ awardee loses life to COVID-19

Published April 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Jonathan Hicap

A retired overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who in 1998 was given the “Philippines Hero Award” by the Bagong Bayani (New Hero) Foundation for his support to fellow OFWs has lost his battle against COVID-19.

Lito Mercado before he was transferred to the ICU. (Photo courtesy of Mercado family / MANILA BULLETIN)
Lito Mercado before he was transferred to the ICU. (Photo courtesy of Mercado family / MANILA BULLETIN)

A 60-year-old man from Muntinlupa City who was diagnosed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) passed away Thursday morning.

Patient Lito Mercado died at the intensive care unit of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City where he was admitted on March 24.

His son, Joseph, told Manila Bulletin last April 1 that his father tested positive for COVID-19 on March 25.

Mercado experienced coughing on March 15 to 18. Together with his eldest son, he had a swab test at Asian Hospital.

His eldest son also tested positive for COVID-19 but has since been cleared of the disease. He is under home quarantine and will be tested again after 14 days.

His son said last week that his father was slowly recovering and his vital signs were improving although he was still in the ICU.

Mercado’s case drew national attention when it was revealed that his hospital bill had already reached P1.44 million for just a week of confinement. The family appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte for help in setting his hospital bill, which has since ballooned to more than P3 million.

This prompted Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) President Ricardo Morales to issue an announcement on April 2 to say that the agency “will shoulder the full cost of treatment for all COVID-19 cases until April 14, 2020.”

“The reason for this accommodation window is due to the novelty and the wide range of severity of the disease in the country for which no existing case rate or package based on accepted protocols has yet been established,” he said.

Philhealth also announced on April 8 that “regardless (of) when the patient is admitted for COVID-19, the confinement will be covered by PhilHealth. If admitted from February 1 to April 14, 2020, PhilHealth pays the full cost of treatment.”

“If admitted starting April 15, 2020, PhilHealth will pay using a new case rate package that attuned and responsive to COVID-19 patient needs. This is to balance patient needs for substantial coverage and the need to sustain the fund to be able to cover all COVID-19 patients,” the state insurance agency said.

His son said the remains of his father will be cremated to follow the government mandate that a patient who died of COVID-19 must undergo cremation within 12 hours.

Read more: COVID-19 patient’s family appeals to Duterte as hospital bill rises to P1.44 M