Retired Chula Vista Teacher, Father Dies From COVID-19 Complications

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Randy Dotinga, of Hillcrest, is paying tribute to his father, Ralph Dotinga, who died battling COVID-19 a few days before Christmas.

Randy first shared his family’s story on Twitter.

“He’s one of the 330,000-plus now, an anonymous number. But he had a name. Two, actually. The world called him Ralph Dotinga, but to me he was just dad,” wrote Randy. It’s the introduction to a nine-part, powerful thread on Twitter.

Randy is a freelance writer. He said expressing himself in words comes naturally. He just didn’t expect to be mourning the loss of his father under these circumstances.  

“My dad didn’t deserve this, none of us deserved this. This is not a way to end a life, a life well lived,” said Randy. “My dad had a great career. We always met people in the community who knew him. He was just a sweet, kind man.”

Ralph, 85, was well known in the community, a San Diego native, married 53 years, a father of two and teacher in Chula Vista for 30 years. He retired and eventually moved into an assisted living facility with his wife, which is where Randy believes Ralph may have become infected with COVID-19.

But his diagnosis was unexpected. Randy said his father went to the hospital because he hurt his leg from a fall he suffered. Per protocol, Ralph was tested for COVID-19 and was surprised to find out he was positive.

Randy said his father was supposed to be transferred to a skilled nursing facility, where he would have received rehabilitation treatment for his leg injury but was told the only two facilities accepting COVID-19 patients in San Diego county were overwhelmed and full. Ralph was isolated in the hospital nearly five weeks.

“Imagine being in a room, in a bed for four or five weeks, and the only people coming in are in these space suits,” said Randy. He wrote on Twitter; “’Help’, he texted me one night. (I had no idea he knew how to text.) We couldn’t go there to hold his hand or comfort him.”

His father died a few days before Christmas.

“What do we have to do to get anyone to care and do things that are simple to protect everybody in our community? We could do so much better if people would just take simple precautions…My dad didn’t deserve this, this kind of death, this kind of goodbye.”
Randy said his father suffered from preexisting health conditions. He had suffered two heart attacks, a cardiac arrest, and a quadruple bypass before his COVID-19 diagnosis. Randy’s mother also contracted the virus. Randy said she’s recovering well.

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