Ospital ng Paranaque's Dr. Neal Orteza dies of COVID-19

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2020 03:56 PM

Dr. Ephraim Neal C. Orteza. Photo from the Olivarez General Hospital Facebook page

MANILA -- Another eminent Filipino doctor has succumbed to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

Ephraim Neal C. Orteza, medical director and pediatrician of Ospital ng Paranaque, passed away at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, at the Asian hospital in Muntinlupa, according to his elder sister, writer-actress Bibeth Orteza. 

He was 64.

Dr. Orteza was still actively attending to his patients last month, his sister said. 

“He sent me this text, March 19. 'My chest CT scan was read as CoVid pneumonia. My swab results done in RITM will be out tom or Sunday.' I asked to visit him, and he said it was best that I didn't,” Bibeth said. 

“Ospital ng Paranaque had been designated as a COVID hospital. When the virus broke out, he was on my case, making sure I'd stay home because I was the one with co-morbidities worse than his, while he 'only' had diabetes," said Bibeth, a breast cancer survivor. 

“I had heard from a younger brother that he saw him doing his hospital rounds without a mask. I chided him and he said something like it would sometimes be a spur-of-the moment decision to go without masks at certain times to reassure hysterical mothers of his patients that all would be well.” 

Dr. Orteza fought hard battling COVID-19 and its complications, going through good and bad days for two weeks until last night. 

“We have accepted God's will,” said Bibeth. “We are just pained by the lack of closure. Only one family member is allowed to be in the cremation. I'm not permitted anywhere near because of my co-morbidities."

A pre med graduate of the University of the Philippines, Orteza finished his medicine degree at the University of the East. He and his wife, Imelda Olivarez, put up their own practice in Virginia in the United States. 

When his in-laws asked them to take care of Olivarez General Hospital, they returned to Manila and reestablished it. He was chief operating officer and medical director of the Olivarez hospital. 

Aside from his concurrent status as medical director of Ospital ng Parañaque I and II, Orteza was also president of the Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines. 

Bibeth said his brother's remains will be cremated Thursday, following COVID-19 protocols. 

"I thank everyone praying for my brother and our family," she said.