While the entire world is battling an ongoing pandemic, modern day heroes have emerged especially in the field of health and wellness. They continue rising to the challenge as community frontliners with their hearts and souls exposed to the harshness brought about by this cruel virus. Behind the layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) that they frequently wear lie stories of love, hope, and strength.
Meet Dr. Raymund de la Cruz, an emergency medicine consultant at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Growing up in the Philippines and migrating to South Australia more than a decade ago has helped broaden his mission to serve an international community especially during this time of health crisis.
Hey Paolo: What inspired you to become a doctor?
I was an engineer before I became a doctor. My high school guidance counsellor in the Philippines suggested back then that since I was good at mathematics and she thought I was not compassionate that I should naturally take up engineering. But after working for two years as an industrial engineer, I got bored. Instead of working with machines, I would rather have human contact and be able to help people. I decided to study medicine. Now, I’m in a career that I love and I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life. It’s a perfect fit for me.
Hey Paolo: What’s the biggest challenge doctors face at present especially with this COVID-19 pandemic?
Emergency doctors are always on the front line regardless of whether or not there is a pandemic. We always see patients at the height of their disease, like in stroke or trauma, where there is a high chance that they might not be able to make it. It is our job to make sure that it doesn’t happen. Apart from trying our best to help our patients survive, we also have to deal with their families. I sometimes feel it’s harder to deal with the families than the patients themselves. Some family members might not even believe what I say or that I haven’t done my best in that particular situation.
Hey Paolo: What are you most scared of in your line of work?
In a pandemic like COVID, what I’m scared about the most is that I might take the virus back home with me. I don’t want my loved ones, especially my partner (Alex) to get infected. I signed up for this; there are risks associated with my job. But I can’t help thinking about the people I love. I don’t want them to get hurt. Other than that, nothing scares me anymore.
Hey Paolo: How do you think South Australia has responded to this pandemic?
I think South Australia, or Australia in general, has responded very well comparing it to the response of other countries like the U.S. We’ve instituted measures to prevent COVID-19 from blowing up quite early. We have enough masks, facilities, and testing kits — and we haven’t run out of it because we use them properly. We’re lucky Australia isn’t hit as hard as the other countries. We’ve somehow prevented it by stopping international flights right from the onset. Particularly in South Australia, we have been very compliant with quarantine rules. Since we have a small population, it made it more manageable.
Hey Paolo: What was your dream profession growing up?
I used to tell everyone that I wanted to become a scientist. My dad was a veterinarian and my mum was a senior Science specialist at the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Science has always been part of my life.
Hey Paolo: Who is Raymund outside his profession?
I belong to an all-male acapella group (Festival Statesmen Chorus). We have won a few competitions and have toured around Australia. It’s one of the best chorale groups in the country. The members of this group are also my best friends. Making music with them is something I look forward to every week. I also like interior design in general and designing my own house (which was already featured on SALIFE magazine). I also love indoor plants — I wish I could have a garden of my own one day.
Hey Paolo: What is the greatest misconception about you?
I’m very polarizing. I don’t talk a lot in social situations. People think I’m either just shy or that I’m a snob. I’m also really bad at keeping in touch with friends. But, I’m just being myself — I’m an introvert.
Hey Paolo: Recommendations for…
Brunch: Every time we go to the Adelaide Hills, we always find brunch places anywhere with fantastic food. I love FRED Eatery (220 Mount Barker) there. If we don’t feel like driving, we like walking around Adelaide CBD, along Hutt Street and Flinders Street. Flinders Street Project is one of our favourites.
Dinner: I like Stem (188 Hindley St.)
Hangout Place: For a day in the beach, we go for quick dips at Semaphore. Sometimes we go to Glenelg as well and then we indulge on oysters afterwards. But on a casual night, my favourite hangout place is our own roof deck. Alex (my partner) is pretty good at making amazing cocktails and we just invite people to join us sometimes.