Meet the Fil-Am teen caring for hospice patients on the frontlines

SALEM, MA — He’s only 19-years-old, but Filipino-American Ben Zimmerman has been working on the frontlines of the pandemic at a hospital in Salem, Massachusetts, taking care of hospice patients with COVID-19.

He originally got the job last November assisting dementia patients – but his job quickly shifted in focus after seniors were impacted the most by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Late towards March, early April, normal day going into work, and that point I went to work, I had to wear a mask, and I was told my patient for the day was a COVID patient who live in Hospice care, essentially my job was to, just make their life easier as they were slowly passing away.”

At that time, there was not enough information available about SARS-COV2 – the virus that causes COVID 19 disease, but the Fil-Am teen took the job nonetheless.

“I was actually nervous for the first time, and at first I was nervous but after maybe like an hour or so, coz I work in 8 hour shift, I sort of just kinda locked it in the back of my head and try not to think about it and just do things as I typically would and take all the safety precautions, pretty much just be the best worker for that patient.”

Zimmerman is a junior pre-med student at Salem State University, studying sports movement science with a minor in human biology.

His dream: to become an orthopedic doctor someday.

But he wanted to get some extra experience working in a hospital.

It turned out, he chose the right path.

“It made me wanna be a doctor even more.”

After all, saving lives runs in his blood — his mother, Jennifer Zimmerman, is a pediatrician and his father Jay is a registered nurse.

“It really made me appreciate human life more than I thought that I actually ever would.”

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