A beloved geriatric psychiatrist-church musician remembered for cooking skills
By Ankita Rao
The Guardian
April 29, 2020 at 8:47 am

Dr. Leo Dela Cruz

Dr. Leo Dela Cruz was nervous about going to work in the weeks before he died, his friends said. Like many in the region, Christ Hospital had an influx of Covid-19 patients and faced a shortage of ventilators and masks.

Dela Cruz was a geriatric psychiatrist and didn’t work in coronavirus wards. But he continued to see patients in person. In early April, Dela Cruz, who lived alone, complained only of migraines, his friends said. Within a week, his condition worsened, and he was put on a ventilator at a nearby hospital. He died soon after.

Friends said he may have been exposed at the hospital. (In a statement, hospital representatives said he didn’t treat Covid -19 patients.)

Dela Cruz, the oldest of 10 siblings, came from a family of health care professionals. His friends and family — from Cebu, Philippines, to Teaneck, New Jersey — remembered his jovial personality on Facebook. He won “best doctor of the year” awards, played tennis and cooked traditional Cebu dishes.

Nida Gonzales, a colleague, said he always supported people, whether funding a student’s education or running a church mental health program. “I feel like I lost a brother,” she said.

This story is part of “Lost on the Frontline,” a project from The Guardian and Kaiser Health News that aims to document the life of every health care worker in America who dies from Covid -19 during the pandemic. If you have a colleague or loved one we should include, please share their story.

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