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COVID-19 claims 9th PH doctor

By JOSEPH ALMER PEDRAJAS

Nine Filipino doctors serving in the country have succumbed  to the novel coronavirus disease-2019, a former official of the Philippine Medical Association said yesterday.

Dr. Dennis de Guzman, former assistant secretary general of the PMA, said the ninth and the latest fatality from medical workers was Dr. Sally Gatchalian, president of the Philippine Pediatric Society Inc.

Gatchalian also served as assistant director at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City, which was initially the only testing facility in the country for COVID-19.

“Nalulungkot ang aming komunidad na doctor. Sunod-sunod halos ang pagpanaw ng aming kasamahang doctor na lumalaban, frontliners, dito sa COVID na ‘to,” De Guzman said.

De Guzman expressed fear that the number of medical workers who will succumb to the disease might increase “because of lack of personal protective equipment” 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, and expressed hope “that you could help us.”

“Talagang kami sa Philippine Medical Association at sa lahat ng mga doctor ay nakikiramay sa lahat ng pamilyang naiwan nitong mga doctor. Talagang masakit samin sa 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.

Gatchalian’s sister, actress Ruby Rodriguez, yesterday paid tribute to her.

“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!”

Several doctors in the frontline were reported to have died due to COVID-19 over the past few days.

Among the latest fatalities were former doctor-to-the-barrios and Pampanga provincial health officer Dr. Marcelo Jaochico and cardiology “pillar” Dr. Raul Jara, who died on Wednesday and Thursday.

AT HALF-MAST

The Pampanga provincial government paid tribute to Jaochico by flying the  flag at the provincial capitol in San Fernando City, Pampanga at half-mast.

Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda said the flag was raised at half-mast as a symbol of respect and mourning to a man who became a beacon of hope to Kapampangans and to many others whom he had touched and served all through the years as a medical professional.

“Salamat po sa inyong kabutihan. Hanggang sa huli mong mga sandali, kapakanan pa rin ng ating mga kababayan ang inyong ipinaglaban,” the governor said. (with reports from Ellalyn Ruiz and Franco Regala)

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