Belize Mourns Loss of Respected Doctor, Dr. Fernando Cuellar

Belize Mourns Loss of Respected Doctor, Dr. Fernando Cuellar

Dr. Fernando Cuellar was a beloved medical practitioner who played a fundamental role in the development of Belize’s healthcare system. He undoubtedly was able to save numerous lives, but over the weekend, there was little he could do to save his life.  The Belizean doctor died on Saturday night while receiving treatment at a hospital in the United States. News of his death sent shockwaves across the country and has left many people grieving. Reporter Vejea Alvarez tells us more. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: To many, he was the people’s doctor. A humble servant who dedicated decades to saving others and working to improve healthcare in Belize. Doctor Fernando Cuellar was beloved, respected, and trusted. On Saturday night, the good doctor lost a battle with blood cancer and passed away while receiving treatment in the United States. He had been diagnosed last month after seeking treatment for a back fracture and was later admitted. Nonetheless, Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard says his death came as a complete surprise. 

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “And I know that his colleagues across Belize and not only in Belize but those who he had come in contact with across the globe are very much felt the impact of his loss and I said I pray for his family that God gives them the strength and guidance for them to carry on in his legacy and I pray that the medical fraternity in this country can continue to work earnestly to ensure that we continue to work hard to protect the right of our citizens, providing better and quality care for our people. It is the ministry’s responsibility as well and as the Minister for us to ensure that we continue to look at advancing, enhancing and promoting better healthcare in this country. And so that’s something that Dr.Cuellar wanted.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Cuellar worked for many years at the Belize Medical Associates (BMA), but his reach was far greater. Doctor Marcello Coyi, a founder of the BMA, says he first met Cuellar many decades ago and witnessed the tremendous care he provided for hundreds. 

Dr.Marcelo Coyi, Founder, BMA: “I think up to a week ago he sent us an article that he’s reading while in the hospital over there. But more than that I think he was very charismatic. He was able to show that care to his patients in terms of empathy. He had good social skills in communicating with his patients and whether they were rich, whether they were poor he was able to get along with them.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The 53-year-old internist was a stern believer in doing things the right way, according to EMS practitioner Javier Canul. He says that the doctor was a laser-focused and passionate mentor who left a mark on many in the medical field.

Javier Canul, EMS Practitioner: “To say that Dr.Cuellar was one of my mentors he played an instrumental role in the early party of BERT getting online when he was at Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital he supported the EMTs and he was one of the persons that made sure we get the job the right way. We talked about training so I’m trained and then we would go work under Dr.Cuellar and he would guide us “Listen this is how you do this.” “This is how you do that.” and this is what we’re talking about mentorship. So he was a great mentor for many EMTs that you see out there.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Dr. Cuellar survived a bout with COVID-19 in 2022 and was an advocate for healthy living, who even partnered with Love Television for the Proper Dosage show.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Whether it was a personal discussion I had with Dr.Cuellar when I became the minister in a private discussion and his adamant position on wanting to see betterment for our country in the public sector and he was right in may ways. He was a very vocal individual but very right in his position. A lot of people might not have agreed with some of the things he said but at the end of the day he wanted betterment of this country. He wanted to see our healthcare system improve. He wanted to see life improve and it’s so sad that he had to encounter such issue and has lost his life sadly. And so it’s gonna be a great loss for the medical fraternity in this country.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Cuellar’s family says that “he passed peacefully at Memorial Care Saddleback Hospital ……surrounded by his children and siblings. He wanted to fight. He wanted to return to Belize, to his family, to continue to serve the people of Belize. But instead, God called him home.” Coyi says his family at the BMA is now left with only fond memories they will cherish. 

Dr.Marcelo Coyi, Founder, BMA: “He was obviously well trained in his area of subspeciality. Had a very big clinic here and got along well with everybody. Certainly he provided good care to his patients. Very attentive. He was very good in making diagnoses and where needed and intensive care would be needed he would be the person that we refer patients to him.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Dr. Cuellar’s family are now preparing to lay him to rest.

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