DepEd Doc Mikee, take a bow
Doc Mikee quietly works in a corner of a 63-square-meter room located at the ground floor of the Schools Division of San Jose City. This room, which she shares with a dentist and three nurses, serves as clinic and houses the command control for the flagship programs of Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd.
She tinkers with her laptop keyboard as she contemplates her next move in fighting the unseen enemy. How she has been able to do her enormous tasks in this sparse war room doesn’t matter, at least for someone like her whose mantra is “Para sa bata.”
As Filipinos scoured drugstores and marketplaces for face masks and face shields during the early part of the health crisis, Division personnel of the Department of Education (DepEd) were mobilized to improvise in their homes and out of very limited resources. Together with the DRRM (disaster risk reduction and management) and social mobilization coordinators, Doc Mikee led the distribution of these items in clinics, health centers, and hospitals.
She herself initiated a fundraising campaign by tagging her friends on Facebook, her pleas reverberating as far as the FB could reach. This enabled her to purchase personal protective equipment for local frontliners.
Sometimes, however, she doubts her relevance. “Ang hirap mahalin ng Pilipinas,” she’d say. News of frontliners, especially dear friends, who have succumbed to COVID-19 tears her apart. She gets unsettled when people violate basic health protocols. Yet, she reaps what she sows—the love she gives, she receives. When situations become difficult for her, when what she has worked hard for is put at stake, one of the nurses would remind her, “Doc, ’yang lisensiya mo, ingatan mo” (Doc, remember your license).
While so many others in the medical profession have left the Philippines, some flaunting on social media their easy life in their foster country, this DepEd doctor has stayed, checking up on pupils including those in the last mile schools, particularly when the world was still COVID-19 free. She dealt with them even during the most unholy hours of the day. She and a nurse assessed a pupil in Junior Campo Elementary School one really hot midday, and although the two of them had been to a number of other schools in the morning, there was no trace of impatience in their voices. One could only wish their faithfulness to service is as contagious as COVID-19.
Doc Mikee also volunteered in the local government unit’s COVID-19 vaccination program. With the surge of cases in the city, she became preoccupied with attending to patients, particularly DepEd personnel and their families. This she had to do even as her very own 96-year-old grandmother and other relatives were also fighting the virus.
She has been relentless in her advocacy for better health care. During this year’s World Teachers’ Day celebration, the CLSU Sigma Beta Fraternity/Sigma Beta Sorority organized a virtual concert featuring Noel Cabangon. While the concert was being livestreamed on Facebook, Doc Mikee appealed for donations, its proceeds to be used for the purchase of pulse oximeters to be given to teachers.
Not all doctors work in the hospital. Asked if she had not missed a lot of opportunities, Doc Mikee answered: “May balak akong mag-training pa, here or sa ibang bansa, if papalarin. Para matuto pa ako. Para mas specialized pa ang care ko. Gusto ko pa din bumalik after makapag-ipon.” (I have plans to undergo training here or abroad, if God permits. So that I would learn more. So that I could give more specialized care. I’d like to come back once I have saved enough.)
Last Sept. 30, Dr. Mikee Fiel Soriano, Medical Officer 3, filed her resignation from the Division. She assured the office, which she had served for three years, that she was leaving behind all files, complete and well-organized, to her fellow frontliners — dentist Ruel Romualdo and nurses Ilona Garcia, Jaqueline Maliwat, and Jefferson Ganiban. Selfless health workers like them are a ray of hope amid the sad state of our country’s health care system.
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Mercedes H. Blancas is a non-teaching employee of the Schools Division of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.
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