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PH mourns 6th doctor who dies in war vs Covid-19

26 March 2020

By The SUN
Dr Sally Gatchalian

Prominent pediatrician, Dr. Salvacion "Sally" Gatchalian, has died of Covid-19, the 6th doctor at the frontline to have succumbed to the deadly coronavirus disease.

Dr Gatchalian, president of the Philippine Pediatric Society and assistant director at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), had been in critical condition for days.

Her sister, TV host Ruby Rodriguez, announced the doctor’s death through an Instagram post Thursday morning (Mar 26).
 “We will only remember you with happy memories, laughing, and sleeping. Be at peace and do not worry about us anymore. Have fun in heaven! Love you so much!” Rodriguez wrote on Instagram.

To date, there are 636 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines, 38 of whom have died, while 26 recovered.

Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, said Gatchalian was the 9th doctor to die from the disease, but did not give names, or indicate who among them fell in the line of duty.

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Earlier, five other frontline doctors died within three days of each other, the latest of whom were two renowned specialists in their fields, Dr Raul Jara and Dr. Marcelino Jaochico.
Dr Raul Jara 
Dr Jara, a cardiologist and former president of the Philippine Heart Association, passed on Mar 24, after being in critical condition for several days. A graduate of the University of the Philippines, Dr Jara served as former head of the UP Philippine General Hospital Cardiology training program before he moved to the Philippine Heart Center.

In a tribute, the PHA said: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the loss of one of the great pillars of Cardiology, PHA Past President Dr Raul Diaz Jara. He was a great father, teacher, mentor, poet, author, singer, colleague, friend. One who has spent his life teaching. One who never got tired to impart knowledge and wisdom.”

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On the same day, highly respected barrio doctor, Marcelino Jaochico, also lost his battle against the virus. Dr Jaochico, the first Most Oustanding Awardee of the government’s Doctor to the Barrios program, was the provincial health officer of Pampanga.
Dr Marcelino Jauchico
In a Facebook post, his daughter Cielo, appealed to the public to remember her father not as someone who succumbed to the dreaded disease but one who had done so much for Pampanga and the country.

“Please do not remember him as someone who just died because of Covid-19. Sobrang dami niyang ginawa para sa bayan. Please pray for his soul. Please pray for the souls of those who are still fighting,” she said.
On Mar 22, anesthesiologist Dr Gregorio Macasaet III of the Manila Doctors Hospital also lost the battle against the dreaded disease. His wife, Dr. Evalyn Macasaet, fell ill at the same time, but has reportedly recovered since.

Dr Macasaet wrote a touching letter in which he described his losing battle to the disease, and called on his friends to look after his wife and their only son who is autistic.

Manila Doctors said in a tribute: “…We lost not just a doctor but a friend, colleague, co-worker, father, and husband. He had impacted the lives of his patients at Manila Doctors and his fellow doctors and the nurses who worked beside him.”

The hospital described Macasaet as one of the best anesthesiologists in the country and one of the first responders to a patient who eventually died from Covid-19.

Two other medical heroes died a day earlier. Another barrio doctor, Israel Bactol, a cardiologist also at the PHC, died at the young age of 34. Dr Bactol reportedly got infected by a patient who lied about her travel to China, and eventually died from Covid-19.

PHA executive director Dr Joel M. Abanilla described Bactol in a bulletin as “a young, brilliant, promising doctor” and a “casualty of this war.”

Colleagues remembered him for being kind and humble.

Following his death, the PHC put up his photo in the hospital’s lobby, and people have been bringing flowers as tribute.

Also hailed as a hero is Dr Rosalinda Pulido, an oncologist at the San Juan de Dios Hospital.
Dr Rose Pulido
A message from her fellow La Salle alumni posted in the Bayanihan at Mga Bayani Facebook group for Covid-19 heroes, said: “Before helping Covid patients, Dr. Rose Pulido was in service to patients suffering from cancer. Thank you for the countless times you’ve extended your hand to those in need. You have lived a remarkable life of service. Your fellow Lasallians are immensely grateful, Dr. Rose.”

To date, at least eight other infected doctors are said to be in various hospitals, fighting valiantly against the dreaded disease, some of them in critical condition.

They are: Francis Dimalanta, Marie Valbuena, Kiko Lukban, Tess Castro, Dolic Ng, Grace Carras-Torres, Ronnie Mateo, and Raldy Goco. Those who have recovered are Dr Fernando Ayuyao and Dr. Evalyn Macasaet.

Various people have been posting calls for prayers for those still struggling against the disease, and thanksgiving for those who fell in the line of duty.
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