Filipino nurses prepare themselves for ‘apex’ of coronavirus pandemic

NEW YORK — “I couldn’t think of how I could go to work everyday. By God’s grace, this is my 18th day working in the hospital.”

This is Filipino operating room nurse, Patrick Singson, bracing himself.

Makeshift hospitals are ready to take in patients that could no longer be accommodated in hospitals, like where Singson works, that have already reached capacity.

Body bags have already piled up in refrigerated trucks and hospital hallways.

Healthcare workers may call their workplace a “medical war zone” — but Singson said Filipino nurses have what it takes to survive worst-case scenarios.

“Palaban ang mga Pilipino, hindi kami sumusuko, kami, wala akong naririnig na reklamo sa kanila, yung ibang lahi diyan nag quit na… pero yung mga Pilipino, solid kami.”

“Filipinos are fighters. We don’t give up. We don’t complain. Others would have already quit. But Filipinos, we’re solid.”

Former UFC fighter turned nurse practitioner Philippine Nover is among those preparing for the medical battle of their lives.

“In the past, we’ve had an influx of patients, but it always settles down for a bit where we can catch our breaths, it’s not settling down here.”

Nover told The Guardian that “the influx of COVID patients is still not settling down” – and the worst is yet to come.

Nover said, “The tipping point is when they’ll have to start deciding who gets the remaining ventilators as they prepare for what could be another Italy or Spain.”

Both Singson and Nover are worried about the safety of health care providers and their patients.

“The fact na yung cdc, they’re allowing us to work kahit positive na yung iba, as long as asymptomatic ka ganun sila kadesperado dito.”

“The fact that the CDC, they’re allowing us to work even if others are already positive, as long as asymptomatic, that means they’re that desperate.”

Singson believes it was during the first week of the unexpected COVID-19 patients surge when many of his coworkers were infected — due to lack of information about the disease and lack of protective equipment

“There are Filipinos here fighting for their lives in the ICU. I can’t name them, but I want you to pray for us. There are a lot of Filipinos that have been infected here. But I want you to know they are not backing down. They will fight until the end.”

As for the healthcare workers who recovered from the coronavirus, Singson said many of them came right back to work as soon as they were able.

“They don’t go to work to make a living — but to save lives,” said Nover. “After all — this is their calling.”

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