We salute and pray for our med­i­cal front-lin­ers in the fight against the coro­n­avirus. Let’s tie a red rib­bon to express sup­port to our health work­ers.

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Cathy Cañares Yam­suan @Katyyam

“An ex­cep­tional physi­cian” with a pas­sion for child care and chil­dren’s rights was how col­leagues de­scribed Dr. Sal­va­cion “Sally” Ro­driguez Gatchalian, pres­i­dent of the Philip­pine Pe­di­atric So­ci­ety (PPS), who be­came the lat­est and ninth Filipino physi­cian to suc­cumb to the new coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19).

Gatchalian died on Thurs­day. She was 68.

In a ra­dio in­ter­view, Dr. Den­nis de Guz­man, former as­sis­tant secretary gen­eral of the Philip­pine Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, cited the other doc­tors who fell in the line of duty.

They were car­di­ol­o­gist Is­rael Bac­tol of the Philip­pine Heart Cen­ter (PHC); on­col

ogist Rose Pulido of San Juan de Dios Hospi­tal; anes­the­si­ol­o­gist Gre­go­rio Ma­casaet III of Manila Doc­tors Hospi­tal; car­di­ol­o­gist Raul Jara of PHC; Dr. Henry Fer­nan­dez of the Pan­gasi­nan Med­i­cal So­ci­ety; Dr. Marcelo Jaochico, Pam­panga pro­vin­cial health of­fi­cer; ob­ste­tri­cian-gy­ne­col­o­gist Raquel Seva of Evan­ge­lista Spe­cialty Hospi­tal in San Pe­dro, La­guna; and Dr. Hector Al­varez of No­valiches Dis­trict Hospi­tal.

Warm­hearted per­son

Dr. Jean Marie Poblete, former PPS pres­i­dent, re­mem­bered Gatchalian as “a very warm­hearted per­son” widely re­garded for her ad­vo­cacy against infectious dis­ease among chil­dren, who threw her full sup­port to Poblete’s “Piso Para sa Scholar” pro­ject for poor chil­dren.

As head of the 6,500-strong PPS, Gatchalian was “one of Asia’s finest in bat­tling infectious dis­ease in pe­di­atrics,” Poblete said.

Ap­par­ently, her pas­sion for chil­dren’s rights was as strong, she said.

‘Pos­i­tive par­ent­ing’

In 2018, the PPS is­sued a state­ment de­cry­ing the govern­ment’s plan to lower the age of crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity to nine years.

Un­der Gatchalian’s leadership, the group ar­gued that the par­tic­i­pa­tion of mi­nors in crim­i­nal acts would be bet­ter checked by “pos­i­tive par­ent­ing” and “ev­i­dence-based” interventi­on rather than by pros­e­cu­tion.

Her com­mit­ment to work and ad­vo­cacy was, how­ever, leav­ened by her abil­ity to in­ject hu­mor in se­ri­ous sub­jects, Poblete said.

“Imag­ine hear­ing a lec­ture on po­lio sprin­kled with jokes,” she added.

She was “a great pe­di­a­tri­cian, a pre­cious soror­ity sis­ter at (the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines’ Col­lege of Medicine), a friend. May an­gels welcome her in heaven,” wrote Dr. Dominga “Min­guita” Padilla on Twitter on learn­ing about Gatchalian’s demise.

RITM con­sul­tant

In a phone in­ter­view later, Padilla, an oph­thal­mol­o­gist and ac­tive con­sul­tant at St. Luke’s Boni­fa­cio Global City (BGC), de­scribed her col­league as “warm, walang ere (grounded), very com­pe­tent and wel­com­ing like an older sis­ter, so pop­u­lar and so loved.

“I have no bad mem­o­ries of her. Dok­tora Sally was never ma­sun­git. She was al­ways smil­ing but was also tough. She fought for the truth. Tough but not rough,” she said.

The clin­i­cal as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Up-philip­pine Gen­eral Hospi­tal sur­mised that Gatchalian’s ded­i­ca­tion to her obli­ga­tion as con­sul­tant of the Re­search In­sti­tute for Trop­i­cal Medicine (RITM) might have ex­posed her to a child who was asymp­to­matic but was nonethe­less pos­i­tive for COVID-19.

“The thing is, front-lin­ers [like Gatchalian] are ex­posed but are not aware of it,” the doc­tor added.

Like Poblete, Padilla fondly re­mem­bered Gatchalian for her sense of hu­mor, much like her sis­ter Ruby Ro­driguez, a pop­u­lar co­me­dian.

“She would make peo­ple laugh and make them com­fort­able through her jokes,” Padilla said, ad­ding that Gatchalian’s light touch was ev­i­dent even in med­i­cal school and with her fu­ture hus­band, Dr. Ed­uardo Gatchalian.

“That’s why so many peo­ple are mourn­ing her. So many doc­tors learned so much from her,” Padilla said.

Poblete re­called how hon­ored the PPS was when Gatchalian showed up as speaker on the tenth an­niver­sary of St. Luke’s BGC and its In­sti­tute of Pe­di­atrics and Chil­dren’s Health on Feb. 21.

I have no bad mem­o­ries of her. ‘Dok­tora’ Sally was never ‘ma­sun­git.’ She was al­ways smil­ing but was also tough. She fought for the truth. Tough but not rough Dr. Dominga ‘Min­guita’ Padilla Oph­thal­mol­o­gist

Life of the party

“She was a very busy per­son ... so ev­ery­one ex­claimed, ‘She’s here!’ [when she came]. She cheered dur­ing the party games, laughed, made jokes and re­ally lived the party with us,” Poblete re­called.

When she learned that Gatchalian had been in­tu­bated as her sick­ness got worse, “I cried but said ‘God’s will be done.’” Poblete said.

“There was so much pain, but I had to let go. She lived a full life,” she added.


Sal­va­cion Ro­driguez Gatchalian

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