By Nerissa M. Gerial, RN, MHA, PhD, CESE
Deputy Executive Director for Nursing Services
National Kidney and Transplant Institute
I can say that all of us in the nursing services were caught off-guard, not ready and ill-prepared to face this pandemic concern. 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 one is very different.
We are tasked to take care of very ill and contagious patients, which in turn threaten our very own health. Our health becomes at risk everyday with one foot on the grave as we handle them. 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 on a very tiring day.
The Filipino nurses, like the rest of the front liners, are aware of their chosen profession and the risk that goes with it, and we swore to do our pledge of taking care of the sick.
That is why amidst this crisis, we remain to be in the forefront of the battlefield, with the armaments we needed to protect our very own selves like having complete standard PPEs while attending to all our patients.
We hope that our present health care system would also take care of us, from diagnostic tests to treatment. We nursing front liners, who are exposed to COVID patients, should also be tested or swabbed when the need arises.
This provides solution to our anxiety and depression in the uncertainty of not knowing whether we got the infection or not, for we also fear bringing the disease home to our family.
It is our appeal that the society whom we are serving would treat us with respect and sympathy, and not be treated as outcasts by being disease carriers.
It is normal in this current situation to feel stressed however, let us be reminded that managing our psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing our physical health.
The nurses, along with the other front liners are unwavering in their service and we salute them for that. I’m sure that the Chief Nursing Officers of the 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 be ready again for their next shifts. We provide them food, arranged modes of transport for those who will report for duty and those who would like to go home, and provide a place to stay in the hospital for those who opted to stay and to those who are in quarantine.
We sincerely appreciate our empathetic citizens who have volunteered out of their own goodwill and sense of social responsibility in donating whatever they have to help, from the meals given, down to the PPEs in any form, and even prayers offered to us every day.
These things help us realize that we are not alone in this battle; these things give us courage in the Nursing Services to continue in the fight of serving our Filipino patients in this COVID war until we win it.
As a government health care worker, I appreciate what the government, thru 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 to its health workers including PPEs distributed to the 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 the other health care workers and front liners, would stand proud — shouting out that we won the battle.
The Nursing Services, along with the Department of Health, is doing its part to ensure that the nurses, and the rest of the nursing staff, are being supported in every way possible. 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!