Unwilling to retire, 81-year-old Filipino doctor in Las Vegas practiced until he died from COVID-19

At 81 years old, Dr. Arthur Tayengco had no plans of retiring and continued seeing patients at his private practice along Charleston Blvd in Las Vegas.

An obstetrician-gynecologist for over 50 years, Tayengco practiced until he physically couldn’t anymore after he contracted COVID-19, the disease linked to the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Arthur Tayengco, an 81-year-old OB-GYN in Las Vegas, died on April 22.  | Photo courtesy of Michele Tayengco

“He loved medicine. He just wouldn’t stop. I kept asking, ‘Don’t you want to retire yet?’ He would say, ‘No, I’m not done,’” his eldest daughter Michele Tayengco, told the Asian Journal.

Dr. Tayengco reportedly got infected in mid-March after two medical assistants at his office tested positive for COVID-19, according to his ex-wife Delia Tayengco, with whom he remained close.

He started exhibiting pronounced symptoms associated with the illness, such as a fever, cough and loss of taste. He was able to get tested for the disease and the result came back positive.

Tayengco self-isolated at home until he told Delia that it was time to go to the hospital on April 5. She called 911 and paramedics took him away with a non-rebreather mask on.

The doctor stayed in the hospital for 16 days and was transferred to hospice care on April 21. In the early hours of April 22, he died.

He became the first practicing Filipino doctor in Las Vegas to die from COVID-19, according to Dr. Teresita Melocoton, a pediatrician who is the president of the Philippine Medical Association of Nevada, an organization of which the late doctor was a founding member.

Melocoton recalled Tayengco’s peacefulness and compassion — qualities she strived to emulate while attending to patients. He was also instrumental in helping her start her solo practice in the city.

“Every time I see newborns, the mother would always say, ‘I hope Dr. Tayengco will not retire because I want to have another child.’ That’s how good he was,” she told the Asian Journal.

Tayengco instructed hundreds of residents over the years, as he served as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Las Vegas School of Medicine.

His daughters estimate that the number of newborn deliveries he made over the course of his career would be equivalent to the student populations of four high schools.

“He loved the idea of being able to bring new children into the world. With every child that he met, he was always super engaged,” Tayengco’s younger daughter Stephanie, who lives in Washington, told the Asian Journal. “He would try to get on their level and speak to them both as children but also treating them like miniature adults.”

Dr. Tayengco, a father of two daughters, is remembered as a compassionate and devoted physician. | Photo courtesy of Michele Tayengco

The extent of Tayengco’s medical work continues to surprise Michele and Stephanie as stories of him trickle in.

When he was at home, he was foremost a father and made it a point to eat dinner each night, even if late, and attend Sunday mass together as a family.

During a company mixer some years ago, the husband of one of Michele’s co-workers came up to her and introduced himself by saying, “Your father saved my mother’s life.”

“My father was so modest that when I recounted this story to him, he said, ‘From God through my hands,’” Michele recalled.

Born in Iloilo City, Philippines on October 18, 1938, Tayengco received his medical degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center College of Medicine in Manila.

There, he met Encarnita Tinio, a classmate who would later become his first wife.

Tayengco came to the United States in the early 60s for his OB-GYN residency at St Clare’s Hospital And Health Care Center in New York, while Tinio pursued pathology. He also completed a fellowship at Nassau County Medical Center.

The couple married in 1966 and had two daughters, Michele and Stephanie.

They moved west in 1972 after an opportunity was presented by Nita Pablico, a registered nurse in Las Vegas whose cousin was Tayengco’s childhood best friend. Pablico had called him to say that her boss was looking for another doctor to help run the OB-GYN practice.

Tayengco worked with Dr. Kenneth Turner, a prominent physician in the city, for a year before venturing off in 1973.

“Art was one of the most caring doctors I have worked for. Some nights, he stayed alongside patients until they gave birth,” Pablico, who worked at Tayengco’s practice for 10 years, told the Asian Journal.

The practice, which was originally located inside a medical office building along Rancho Drive, was managed by his wife Encarnita until she died in 1986. (Tayengco is set to be cremated and buried next to her at a local cemetery.)

Tayengco purchased a property for his practice on the corner of Charleston Boulevard and Darmak Drive in 2004. That was where he worked each day until his passing.

“He would have loved to pass his practice onto me and my sister, but neither one of us wanted to do OB-GYN. In the end, we both decided that we didn’t want to become medical doctors,” Michele said.

Though he lived in Las Vegas for 48 years, Tayengco was still connected to his home country and took part in regular medical missions, his classmate Dr. Cefereno Cheng, a retired physician in Torrance, California, said.

“We’d organize medical missions back to the Philippines and go to provinces to help those in need. Of course, we wouldn’t forget to visit our medical school and see old friends,” Cheng said.

In addition to his daughters and ex-wife, Tayengco is survived by sisters Gloria Lopinco, Yvonne Pacquing, Rose Tayengco, and Anne Tayengco; and stepdaughter Guinevere Torres and her husband Gino, and their children, Gino, Gianna, and Giovanni.

Outside of his medical practice, Tayengco was fond of playing craps and watching a good game of basketball.

He was an avid reader, crediting Father Ian Madigan, a Redemptorist priest at his elementary school, for instilling in him a love for books. Tayengco’s favorite authors included Ian Fleming and Ernest Hemingway, whom his daughters suspect “influenced his love of hunting and fishing.”

The priest was also credited as a mentor who guided Tayengco to reach his potential.

In the 1985 book “Bringing Out the Best in People” by Alan Loy McGinnis, Tayengco was quoted as saying, “I don’t know where I’d be, if Father Madigan hadn’t noticed me and talked to me about my possibilities.”


Editor’s note: The Asian Journal is working to document those of Filipino descent who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus in the United States. If you know of someone or would like to offer a remembrance of someone who has died of COVID-19, please tell us about them by emailing [email protected] with the subject line “Remembering Lives Lost.”

Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is an award-winning editor and communications strategist based in Los Angeles with experience in content, strategy and branding for media ecosystems, inclusive fintech startups, small businesses and direct-to-consumer products.

  1. I was so blessed to meet Dr. Tayengco a few years ago when he came to work at FMWCC Medical Dept on Wednesdays. What a kind soul. He was always approachable and so willing to do all he could. I retired from Nursing at the end of 2017. No not Dr. Tayengco, he kept going, never tired of his practice or passion. May he rest now in the arms of God.

  2. Dr Tayengco’s were the first hands that touched all three of my children when they came into this world. I am blessed to have been cared for an amazing Dr for all 3 of my pregnancies. Our sincerest prayers for Dr Tayengco’s family and staff.

  3. I was blessed to have Doctor Tayengco deliver 2 out of 3 of my daughters. I don’t think I could’ve had the smoothest and nearly the best experiences giving birth without him. He always assured me…at every follow up visit too that everything would be fine. Not only was he an amazing Doctor, he was truly a kind and wonderful person…definitely one in a million. My prayers and deepest condolences go out to his family. You will be missed Doctor T ♥️

  4. Dr Tayengco was the sweetest, most gentle soul. He was my second son’s OBGYN and I remember coming to his office as a single mom-to-be, he always made me laugh. He made sure my high risk pregnancy was taken care of. He really truly cared for the well being of his patients. I will never remember his kindness.

  5. Dr. T, as I called him for the 36 years he was my doctor, was not only professional and knowledgeable but he was kind and caring. Dr Tayengco always asked about our youngest son, whom he delivered at Women’s Hospital and our other 2 children whom he didn’t deliver.
    My husband was born in Iloilo to missionary parents and not one visit ever went by without Dr T asking how Brent was. I would ask how his daughters were doing and he’d update me on their accomplishments.
    Dr Tayengco was very proud of his family.
    To have a physician that remembers a patient and her family when yearly appointments came around meant everything to me.
    I will miss Dr Tayengco tremendously and will always remember him with great admiration.
    My condolences to his family.

  6. He has been my OB/GYN for 14 years, since I was 12 years old. He would’ve been the one to deliver my first if life didn’t have other plans for me.
    He was always a pleasure to talk to, making jokes in even the most awkward of times. He was accommodating and you’re comfortability was always first hand in his book.

    My condolences to his staff, who I’ve also known throughout my years, and to his family and friends.

  7. I use to love going to Dr T office with the inmates. He always had a story to share ????. I would see him out in public and he would stop and say hello. He was a funny guy.

    Plenty of times I sat in the delivery room while he delivered babies….I was the stand in daddy for many of the inmate’s because they couldn’t have family members in the delivery room.

    #RIP #DrT

  8. He was truly a remarkable doctor and human being. He delivered my brother 41 years ago, and had been my doctor for the past 24 years. I was one of his few patients I’m sure, that did not want or have kids, but he said he could always see me with little ones. We’d joke about my kids having feathers (my pet birds). He was one of the kindest souls I’d ever met, and so smart. I would catch him reading something when I would visit his office. He was always educating himself. I just saw him in late February this year, and he was his same old self, cracking jokes and having me look up stuff on Amazon.

    My sincere and loving condolences to his family, his medical staff, and friends. I will always miss him, and I will never forget him. My mom just commented the other day that his hands were the first human touch for my brother, and he came back into the delivery room and said to my mom “does your husband have a sense a humor or what?!?” That was after Dr. T. told my dad in the waiting room that he had a boy, and my dad said I’m having a girl.

    Gone too soon, and I was lucky and privileged to call him my doctor and friend.

    Until we meet again, Dr. T. Thank you for so many years.

  9. Dr. T you brought me, my sister, my cousins and all our children into this beautiful crazy world. You would always say hey Brit and it would make me feel so comfortable and safe as soon as your smile met my face. You and my mom were very close and when her horrible death happened, the best part of having babies was getting to head about how much you loved her.. it’s as if she was there and shining through you and I knew she was with me and my children. Now your with my mommy Joann. You are one incredible man and let’s not forget all your work you did at the woman’s prison. We love you so much. Our family lost another member today and we know your with our angels looking down on us. Thank you for everything and for giving us life and our children. You were one of a kind. God jess your family and your daughters.

  10. I am so broken hearted to learn of this news. Dr. Tayengco was my doctor for over twenty years and delivered my son 38 years ago at the old Women’s Hospital. I was young and frightened and didn’t know what to expect, but Dr. T. helped me get through this and brought my son into the world safely and I am forever grateful and appreciative. I always admired his easy way of treating patients with a smile and humor, but with a great deal of knowledge and patience. Condolences to his family on this tremendous loss and sending many blessings to them.

  11. He delivered my son 29 years ago. He would have been proud of what my son turned into. He was a caring individual and will surely be missed.????????????

  12. So sad to lost One of the best respected Doctor with compassion to patients and dedication as a doctor. It was a pleasure working & knowing him . With my deepest sympathy to the Tayengco family . May God grant your family strength & comfort during this difficult time. RIP Doc. ????????

  13. He was such a great guy with a good sense of humor, I remember after examining my wife on a regular check up as I was sitting in the room, he leaned towards me as if he had something serious to tell me, Dr Arthur said “NEXT TIME PICK ON SOMEBODY YOUR OWN SIZE” as my wife was only 5ft1 115lbs and I am 6’2 250 LBS , LOL!!!

  14. I had such great experience with Dr Tayenco as he delivered my baby. He was friendly, gentle and kind. May he rest in peace.

  15. This is heartbreaking news that I just found out about????Dr. Tayengco delivered all 4 of my daughters, I’ve known him over 30 yrs & he almost delivered my grandson initially but that didn’t work out. He did get an opportunity to initially confirm that I was going to be an Abuela & my daughter was having a boy. He was soooo happy to see us & he couldn’t believe that we thought about him to be her OB/GYN.

    My thoughts, prayers, condolences & deepest sympathy goes out to his family, friends & patients and may Dr. Tayengco continue to be blessed, as it is written in the book of Revelation 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”

    RIP good & faithful ❤️????????????

    Love Sheila Bourne & Family

  16. I just now saw this about Dr Tayengco and am shocked and saddened. He delivered my son nearly 39 years ago and I continued seeing him until I left the state in the early 90’s. He was such a kind and compassionate man and he will be forever missed.

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