Heroes in scrubs: Remembering the lives of medical workers who died in the fight vs COVID-19

/ 06:43 PM March 25, 2020
UPDATED: April 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines—These heroes wear scrubs.

That they gave up their lives to save others from the claws of COVID-19 is testament not only to their self-sacrifice but to the real risks that health workers and professionals face every time they report for duty.


In the Philippines, several of these heroes had already lost their lives in the fight against the disease.

Here they are:


Dr. Greg Macasaet, Manila Doctors Hospital

Manila Doctors Hospital describes him as “one of the best anesthesiologists” in the Philippines and a “brave frontliner.”

His wife, Dr. Evelyn, was also diagnosed with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is currently in hospital.

Before he died, Macasaet sought help for his family, especially for his son who has special needs, in case he did not make it.

“If Ateng (Evelyn) survives, then my wish for her and Raymond for a long and happy life will bear fruition!” he wrote.

“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!”

Rose Pulido, San Juan de Dios Hospital

Not much was written about her passing but she was remembered by people whose lives she had touched on Facebook.

She was a “mentor an a friend” and taught resident doctors “to be always compassionate to patients.”


Pulido also “put the welfare of her patients first regardless of her health condition,” said one colleague, who also described her as a “visionary and innovator.”

Some of her former patients also paid tribute to her on Facebook.

“Thank you for the compassion you have with your patients. Thank you very much for your service,” said a daughter of one of her former patients.

“Her expertise extended my mother’s life. My mom’s still alive today. Thank you for your service,” another wrote.

Dr. Israel Bactol, Philippine Heart Center

A young and promising adult cardiology fellow gone too soon at 34. It’s not clear how he got infected with the virus as he reportedly did not have any direct contact with coronavirus patients and was not in any of the COVID-19 wards.

The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, where he is an alumnus, remembered him as a “doctor to the barrio and hero” and “scholar whose humble beginnings guided his future.”

Dr. Raul Jara, Philippine Heart Center

Jara is one of the country’s top cardiologists. The Philippine Heart Association, which he used to head as president, remembered him as “one of the great pillars of cardiology.”

He “took pride in serving the Filipino people” and “never got tired to impart knowledge and wisdom” as he “spent his life teaching.”

“His memory is not defined by how he died but how he lived,” said the PHA.

Tributes continue to pour in for health workers and professionals who, in their frontline duties, are getting more and more vulnerable to the disease as the number of COVID-19 cases rises.

In Metro Manila, hundreds of staffers of different hospitals had been placed on quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 cases.

As of March 24, the Philippines had 552 confirmed cases, including 35 deaths and 20 recoveries.

Dr. Henry Fernandez, Pangasinan Medical Society

The 77-year-old Fernandez, of Bayambang, Pangasinan, caught the disease from a visitor from abroad during his visit to Manila. He died at the Lung Center of the Philippines last March 20.

Dr. Marcelo Jaochico, Pampanga provincial health chief

Jaochico was head of the provincial health office of Pampanga. He was a Jose P. Rizal Memorial awardee and served as doctor to the barrios in Calanasan, Apayao for at least 16 years.

His daughter, Cielo, who posted a tribute on Facebook, said she didn’t want her father to be remembered as “someone who just died because of COVID-19.”

Dr. Sally Gatchalian, president of Philippine Pediatric Society

Aside from being the president of the Philippine Pediatric Society, Gatchalian was also assistant director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, once the sole facility for confirmatory tests for COVID-19 cases. 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!”

Dr. Leandro L. Resurreccion, Philippine Children’s Medical Center

Dr. Leandro Resurreccion, who died after a three-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.”

“The PCMC Family mourns the passing of a great surgeon, teacher, academician and friend to all.”

His son, Jan, recalled that his father was a certified pediatric transplant surgeon at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Yet his father chose to stay in the country because there were no pediatric transplant surgeons in the Philippines.

Dr. Helen Tudtud, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center

A pathologist at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Helen Tudtud’s life was cut short after her 11-day battle against the disease.

“Both my parents are DOCTORS. My Daddy, especially, is a passionate oncologist who always put his patients first. My parents touched many lives and were always at the forefront of helping other people,” said her son Dennis Thomas on Facebook.

Dr. Dennis Ramon Tudtud

Cebu-based oncologist Dr. Dennis Ramon Tudtud died three days after his wife, Dr. Helen Tudtud, died also due to COVID-19.

“Our Daddy Dennis has joined Mommy Helen. My sister and I are in deep sorrow that God had to take both of them but I take comfort that they are happy together in their journey to paradise,” his son Dennis Thomas said in a tribute.

Dr. Nicko Bautista

It was an unusual case for 33-year-old Dr. Nicko Bautista. He 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.

“We shall never forget Dr. Nicko’s profound courage and selfless service, a doctor who could have served thousands more if he were still with us today,” said the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in a tribute to its alumnus.

Dr. Francisco Lukban

Dr. Lukban was an “embodiment of courage and excellence,” the University of the Philippines said in a tribute.

“Kiko was very much loved by his elderly patients. He was a geriatric cardiologist who practiced holistic healing of patients, great mentor and trusted and loyal friend to many. He was a saxophone player. Dr. Lukban lived a full and happy life as a doctor, husband, father, and as a Filipino; always wanting to serve his fellowmen,” UP said.

Dr. Marcellano Cruz, East Avenue Medical Center/ Ospital ng Maynila

One of his former colleagues described him as a “colleague, mentor and friend to all.”

“Thank you for inspiring us and guiding us. We will surely miss you.”

Dr. Janet Dancel Liban

Dr. Janet Liban risked her life despite her “immunocompromised immune system,” said one of the tributes about her.

“She showed to the whole world how devoted she was to her profession as a physician despite the risk,” another said, referring to her as a cancer survivor.

Dr. Ephraim Neal C. Orteza, Ospital ng Parañaque

The 64-year old medical director and pediatrician of Ospital ng Paranaque was described by colleagues as “our father, mentor and our friend.” His family remembers him as a “loving husband, a supportive father, and a very hardworking medical doctor.”

Manny Pacheco (nurse), Mandaluyong City Medical Center

Pacheco served as chief nurse since 2016 in the Mandaluyong hospital, where he worked for over 30 years. “He was loved by his colleagues, peers and superiors,” said one colleague.

Dr. Ronaldo Mateo, Pagamutan ng Dasmariñas

He was described by colleagues as a “pioneer doctor surgeon” at the Pagamutan ng Dasmarinas, where he worked before he contracted the virus. To recognize his sacrifices, the operating room complex in the hospital was named after him.

Dr. Mary Grace Lim, Asian Hospital and Medical Center

Lim served at the emergency medicine and quality management department of Asian Hospital and Medical Center. The hospital said she was someone “who willingly risked her life to help save others.”

Dr. Gerard Goco, St. Lukes Hospital

Goco was “soft-spoken, quiet yet easy to get along with,” said a tribute to him by Philippine Heart Center, where he was an alumnus. He “fought hard” against the COVID-19 disease before his death on April 4.

Arvin Pascual (nurse), Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija

Coronavirus aggravated Pascual’s asthma, leading to his death. He was the first medical front liner from Nueva Ecija to die from the viral disease.

Dr. Roberto Anastacio, Makati Medical Center

“His dedication and legacy will continue to serve as an inspiration among us, and his selfless sacrifice shall not be in vain,” said the Makati Medical Center, where he was a cardiologist. “MakatiMed salutes Dr. Bobby and the many other health heroes who poured their hearts into the medical vocation to the extent of sacrificing their lives so that others may live.”

Edited by TSB

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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