Choosing a career path puts one in a thorny, unfathomable crossroad hard to decide… or deal with it pragmatically and face the consequences brought about by an erroneous pursuit. Like edification which is a lifelong progression, a wise career choice offers a rewarding and enduring effect, as well.
For young Joven P. Dungo, the youngest among the 6 children of Dr. Francisco and Natividad Dungo of Pampanga, his rebellious decision to veer towards Engineering (just so to thwart the monotonous lineage of medical practitioners) was drastically met with a change of heart only to end up joining the rest of his family in the medical field.
Young Joven’s formative years were spent at the University of Santo Tomas (1966-1968) and at Dickinson High School in Jersey City (1968-1970) when his family migrated to the US.
“During our time at Dickinson, we were appropriately dressed in uniform…with jacket and necktie. Majority of my schoolmates were Americans and Europeans…mostly Irish and we were only three Filipinos,” he fondly recalls while sipping his drink.
He took BS in Civil Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology but after being employed for just a year, lackadaisical attitude and exhaustion crept in and openly accepted his fate: that he was born to be a doctor.
“But, I have no regrets…at least I achieved what I was initially passionate about and have proven my worth!” was his quick reply when queried if he ever lamented having chosen Engineering over Medicine. “As a child, what I actually wanted was to fly a plane but my defiant ways led me to Engineering…just to be different. And I didn’t want to spend more than ten years in school! They say life is too short for a craft too long to finish… and I hated that!”
He enrolled at Rutgers-NJIT for his Pre-Med , then flew back to the Philippines for his Medicine Proper at the University of the East (UERM -1977 to 1981), and finally returned to the USA for his Residency and Fellowship at the Jersey City Medical Center (now RWJ-Barnabas JCMC) specializing in Cardiology.
Aptly armed with his in-depth level of medical knowlegeability while relentlessly acquiring extensive up-to-date technology pertinent to his specialization and innately gifted with a compassionate and emphatic heart, Dr. Joven P. Dungo gradually ascended from merely an effectual clinician to one of the best and most sought-after cardiologists.
Dr. Dungo’s exceptional credentials, distinctive achievements, and selfless community service have effectually contributed to the reputable standing of Cardiovascular Medicine while uplifting the status of the organization where he’s professionally designated.
His professional practice didn’t build a wall between him and his patients. Although doctor-patient confidentiality is the fundamental strand of medical ethics Dr. Dungo’s instinctive concern for the health and well-being of his patients inevitably defy such disclosure and takes care of them like family. He believes that if his patient feels being genuinely cared for his body would suppress the intensity of pain and recovers fast. Empathy, for Dr. Dungo, is an essential “tool” in his personal medical practice.
Although doctors are considered healers and lifesavers unmistakably they are still as human as every ordinary individual susceptible to committing mistakes and vulnerable to overcoming gaffes.
“I thank God that He’s constantly by my side guiding me during my crucial and tough hours in the Operating Room. I’m truly blessed for having not encountered disheartening failures and staid episodes in my entire career. What I only pray for was to be steered and enlighten in my endeavor to save lives,” the low-key cardiologist uttered in a low but unambiguous tone.
“In my thirty years of medical practice I consider Aortic Aneurysm (a fatal bulge in a section of the aorta that could burst) and Cardiogenic Shock (when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s need) the hardest cases to manage,” he shared.
Embracing his profession with paramount dedication generously rewarded him with much more than what he expected and gave him the opportunity to extend his services outside the confines of the four corners of the Operating Room.
“I always believe in giving back and sharing,” he segues with a tone of vibrancy laced with a coy smile. “There are those who untimely lost their lives just because they couldn’t afford a specialist or no such doctor was available. We are all living in borrowed times and each was born with respective destiny but sometimes life span could be miraculously prolonged. If I have the capacity to extend it then why shouldn’t I?”
In 2012 an amicable collaboration with Erie S. Aquino, a service-oriented community leader, resulted in the establishment of JERiecare Rainbow Foundation, Inc. (JERF), a non-profit, empowered, educational, and humanitarian relief institution that inspires hope and delivers assistance as it serves in health, education, scholarship, nutrition, and assists in recovering from natural calamities and weather devastation. Aquino serves as the foundation’s COO and “Operation Puso” Over-all Coordinator while Dr. Dungo sits as President-CEO.
JERiecare Rainbow Foundation found a bighearted partner in Jollibee owner Grace Tan, who happens to be Dr. Dungo’s classmate back during their elementary and high school years, for its Feeding Program project that fed street and homeless children.
Last year, Dr. Dungo set-up “Operation Puso 2016” in association with the Philippine Heart Center with a prime mission: “To save lives.” The mission benefited Class C and D patients…those that could not afford such sky-rocket-priced cardiac treatment.
With a medical team of charitable and munificent-hearted cardiologists, a number of underprivileged Filipinos were given additional years to survive through the generous sponsorship of Meditronic and Boston Scientific who provided free stents, pace-makers, defibrillators, catheters, and everything needed to be able to perform all procedures and accomplish their mission worth to a whopping 1.2 million dollars.
Members of the “Operation Puso 2016” Medical Mission (aside from Dr. Dungo who is the Founder, President, & CEO and Attending Cardiologist at the Carepoint Health System-Barnabas Health, included:
David P. Dobash, MD, pacemaker specialist, Fellowship in Electro Physiology and cardiology (New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Medical Center), Doctorate of Medicine Awardee with high academic honors.
Michael Benz, MD, FACC, FSCAI, RPVIM, RVT, Stent expert, Chief, Division of Cardiology (Christ Hospital, Jersey City), Peripheral & Interventional Cardiology (Advanced Cardiac Care, LLC, Jeresy City), Clinical Asst. Professor, Division of Cardiology (Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ).
Some of the Filipino patients with serious cardiac cases who benefited from the maiden mission of the foundation were Rosalie Robledo, 51; Nestor Gabion, 65; Felix Flores, 65; Vergel Penaloza, 37; and Renato Alcantara, JR., 35.
“After dealing with between-life-and-death cases and successfully saved lives we felt very happy and fulfilled. We were like walking on cloud nine because we were able to sustain the lives of hopeless patients who had almost given up survival due to poverty,” the high-spirited-sounding cardiologist stated.
“Hopefully, next year, we may perform advance methods and procedures in Cebu and St. Luke’s Hospital. We’re currently working on doing TAVR (Trans Aortic Valvular Replacement) and Watchman Implants (to prevent stroke) which are the latest cardiac procedures.”
Currently, JERiecare Rainbow Foundation, Inc. is in the midst of getting active with another feeding task via Vitaquest Laboratory’s Healthycell Products, a result of Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Vincent Giampapa’s extensive stem cell research. A homeless and malnourished kid is assured to be fed three square meals a day from every box sold by Nirvana Lifestyle & Culture, Inc.
Dr. Joven P. Dungo, Engineer, Internist, Cardiologist, and Philanthropist, walks tall and proudly stands after having had successfully accomplished another one among his advocacies for humanity.
Truly, sustaining life for others begets a life sustained with luck and blessings.
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