[OPINION] A message of hope from Filipino nurses to the public

Nerissa M. Gerial
[OPINION] A message of hope from Filipino nurses to the public
'It is our appeal to the society we serve that we be treated with respect and sympathy, and not as outcasts and disease carriers'

I can say that all of us in the nursing services were caught off-guard and ill-prepared to face this pandemic. Although our nursing staff had dealt with many challenging situations in the past, wherein they had to be on high alert for deteriorating patients and those with severe infections, this situation is very different. We are tasked to take care of very ill and contagious patients, which in turn threatens our very own health. 

Yes, this new monster called COVID-19 is a different enemy. We are all afraid to be infected as well, for it could easily lead to death. In addition, we are also afraid for our loved ones: our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, spouses, and even our children whom we could infect when we get home from work after a very tiring day. 

Filipino nurses are aware of their chosen profession and the risk that goes with it, and we swear to fulfill our pledge of taking care of the sick. That is why amid this crisis, we remain to be on the forefront of the battlefield, with the armaments needed to protect ourselves, like having complete standard PPEs.

We hope that our present health care system would also take care of us, from providing diagnostic tests to ensuring treatment. We nursing frontliners, who are exposed to COVID patients, should also be tested or swabbed when the need arises. This will help with our anxiety and depression, as we are often uncertain of whether we are infected or not, and are fearful of bringing the disease home to our family.(READ: [OPINION] The state of Filipino nurses, before and during the coronavirus)

It is our appeal to the society we serve that we be treated with respect and sympathy, and not as outcasts and disease carriers. It is normal in this current situation to feel stressed, but let us be reminded that managing our psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing our physical health. (READ: Evicted, banned from eateries: Frontliners face discrimination in Iloilo City)

I’m sure that the Chief Nursing Officers of private and government hospitals are implementing their own strategies to look out for the overall well-being of their respective nurses. As a step to ensure that the health and safety of our staff is prioritized, we see to it that they have ample time to rest in between duties and to be ready again for their next shifts. We provide them with food, modes of transport, and even a place to sleep in the hospital, for those who opt to stay or are in quarantine. 

We sincerely appreciate our empathetic citizens who have volunteered out of their own goodwill and sense of social responsibility, donating whatever they can to help, including meals, PPEs, and even prayers. These things help us realize that we are not alone in this battle; these things give us courage in the Nursing Services to continue the fight in this COVID war.

As a government health care worker, I appreciate what the Department of Health (DOH), is doing – that despite the limited resources and circumstances which caught us all by surprise, it has made great efforts to provide safety nets for its health workers, including distributing PPEs to different hospitals throughout the country. I really hope that there would be a sufficient amount of PPEs until this pandemic ends. 

In the end, I strongly believe we nurses, together with all other health care workers and frontliners, will stand proud – declaring that we’ve won the war. (READ: World short of 6 million nurses, WHO says)

We acknowledge your hard work, dedication, and commitment to serve the Filipino people. We salute you for being brave, and for being our modern-day heroes. Mabuhay ang mga Filipino nurses! Mabuhay ang mga frontliners! – Rappler.com

Nerissa M. Gerial is Deputy Executive Director for Nursing Services at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.


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