Filipino caregivers recall stresses of quarantine

LOS ANGELES —  For these frontliners, one of the toughest things to do could be stepping back from their jobs at a time when people are needing care.

These Filipino caregivers recently opened up about their experiences of having to be quarantined through their tireless work, as they were exposed and then tested for the coronavirus.

Since many of these caregivers lived in their clients’ homes or in care facilities, the Pilipino Workers Center provided them with a place to quarantine — away from their vulnerable clients.

They fondly call it Bahay ni Kuya, after ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother reality show.

“I was so afraid because the next door neighbor of my client died of COVID-19, so I was really certain that I was exposed, so I’m thankful we have our community who helped me out in being tested and while waiting I went into quarantine with an Airbnb house,” said caregiver Lee Plaza.

And while many of them like plaza ended up with negative test results, returning to work from quarantine, also proved to be emotionally difficult.

“I went back to work and people like where have you been, like i have leprosy don’t go near me. Oh my god it’s really very depressing and very degrading, you just went away and people are treating you you are not part of them or part of the society.”

What’s worse — they’ve actually lost fellow caregivers to COVID-19. But amid their grief, and despite the dangers, they remain committed to their clients.

As the pandemic dragged on, these caregivers began lobbying for the passage of a California bill that would end the exclusion of domestic workers, from the Occupational Safety Health Act.

They also welcome efforts by Los Angeles county to allow for wider and faster access to coronavirus testing for caregivers — as they continue to battle on the frontlines.

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