Nursing community shares devastation after boat fire killed Filipino nurses union members

OAKLAND, CA — Filipino American Michael Quitasol, his wife Fernisa Sison, and daughters Angela, Evan, and Nicole were among the 34 people sleeping in the conception diving boat that caught on fire in the early morning hours of Labor Day.

As family and friends continue to mourn their loss, so does the nursing community.

Michael was a registered nurse at Kaiser in Modesto and Manteca.

Fernisa was a nurse practitioner at Kaiser Permanente in Stockton.

Evan was a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center also in Stockton.

ABS-CBN News spoke with Zenei Cortez, president of National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the U.S.

She said they’re devastated to know that the Quitasols were among the victims. Michael, Fern and Evan were NNU members.

“They would come to conventions as a family. They would all be there learning or protesting or whatever campaign we had they would be there fighting for patients and fighting for the nursing profession. So this is really a big loss, a tragic loss.”

Cortez said she has known Michael for decades — as he and fern actively participated in the nurses’ causes.

“He has been out there fighting for patient’s rights and also nurse’s rights. And I’ve been with Michael for most of our campaigns in lobby visits in Washington DC and Sacramento.”

When news reached St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton that Evan was on board The Conception boat, hospital officials said they held a prayer gathering in their chapel Tuesday morning for Evan, her family, and those affected.

“Evan was a nurse activist, a real patient advocate, and a real advocate for the nursing profession. She was the chief nurse representative at st. Joseph’s hospital so she was well respected by the nurses and also by management.”

Cortez adds that Michael, Fern, and Evan were all registered to attend a nursing convention to be held this weekend.

According to the nurses union, plans for a memorial are being prepared.

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