The doctor Benjamín Rodríguez Cotto, advisor to the Secretary of Health, Lorenzo González, and who is remembered as one of the most prominent and effective directors of the Emergency Room of the Río Piedras Medical Center, died this Friday morning as a result of complications you relate to Covid-19.
Another five doctors and nurses have died from the virus in Puerto Rico, while cases of contagion have shown an increase in recent weeks.
Known among his peers as “Bengie,” Rodríguez Cotto —one of the most prominent emergency physicians on the island— began his career in the 1980s as a doctor in the Emergency Room of the Medical Center. By the early 1990s he became director of the main Emergency Room in Puerto Rico. Later, Rodríguez Cotto becomes the medical director of the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration (ASEM) and a spokesperson for the institution to report on medical events of public interest to the media.
“Bengie was also a primary emergency response physician for the Puerto Rico Medical Emergencies Bureau and was the medical director of several private emergency rooms in community hospitals,” explained Jorge E. Matta González, executive director of ASEM.
Once his work in the medical emergencies area was completed, Rodríguez Cotto held various positions in the organization as assistant, advisor and director of the Institutional Quality Program. In recent years the doctor served as an assistant to several secretaries of the Department of Health, including the current one. In these functions, Dr. Rodríguez Cotto was in charge of coordinating aid for citizens and municipalities, while supporting the rabies control program and participating as a resource for medical expertise in radio and television programs on health issues .
Rodríguez Cotto also received numerous awards and recognitions for his outstanding work, including the Manuel A. Pérez Award for Public Service in Puerto Rico.
Matta González, who is also executive director of the Adult University Hospital (UDH), pointed out that “the death of Dr. Bengie Rodríguez Cotto serves as an example to all of us that we cannot lower our guard against the deadly virus that Covid represents– 19. We have to follow the protocol of continuing to use the mask, continuous hand washing and maintain a distance of at least six feet, whenever we are near another person ”.
For his part, the Secretary of Health regretted the death of his advisor and commented that he joins the list of doctors and nurses who lose their lives due to Covid-19, “leaving an immense void in their family, friends and patients.” He described him as “one of the best human beings I have had the opportunity to share with throughout my life.”
González, who this week resumed his work after being in treatment for testing positive for Covid-19, said that Rodríguez Cotto was “a doctor committed to his profession, but above all a man with an unmatched human quality and a heart giant”.
He stressed that he was a mentor to many professionals who are now doctors and health experts.
“The Covid-19 shows us once again that it does not look at the worth of people. It is a virus that can take the lives of those we love, without even giving us the opportunity to say goodbye, “he added. “We cannot continue to allow this virus to continue snatching more Puerto Ricans … great Puerto Ricans. Winning the battle is in our hands … we are going to unite to defeat it, “he said.
Upon learning of the death of Rodríguez Cotto, both doctors, health professionals and the media, expressed their feelings through social networks.
“How hard it is to lose a person you love so much … As you always told me: ‘COVID is serious, my people, you have to take care of yourself, respect life.” Thank you champion for everything you gave to the country, “wrote epidemiologist Fabiola Cruz on her social networks.