National Nurses Day, celebrated annually every May 6, puts the spotlight on healthcare’s hardest-working frontliners. The day marks the start of National Nursing Week, which concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing.
Fifty-five years later, National Nurses Day could not be more relevant, as countless nurses risk their lives daily (and endure discrimination from community members fearing contamination) in helping patients overcome COVID-19.
Katherine Perez Luckmann
Katherine survived COVID-19—then went back to work
The Denmark-based Katherine, who was the first Filipino nurse to contract the novel coronavirus in her department, thought she was going to die. Worse than the flu, the viral infection left her short of breath and in such great pain, her husband had to carry her.
Eventually, he too caught COVID-19. Relatives rallied around the couple, dropping off groceries and cooked food outside their home. When Katherine finally recovered and after a 14-day quarantine, she went back to work on April 1.
“Ngayon ang priority ko talaga kasi is makatulong especially sa mga patients kasi madami talagang in need ngayon,” she said in a report by ABS-CBN News. “Inisip ko din na kailangan ko tulungan ‘yung mga colleague ko, mostly ‘yung mga nurses naming puro may sakit.”
Alita helps COVID-19 patients—even if she’s close to retirement
At 64, the senior nurse of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) is less than a year away from retirement. But she’s far from slowing down.
Each morning, Alita wakes up early to catch the shuttle that will take her to PGH, one of the government’s referral hospitals for COVID-19.
“Araw-araw pagbaba ko ng bus at bago pumasok sa PGH, talagang nagdarasal ako na walang mangyari,” she said in a report by CNN Philippines.
Her children are aware that their mother could catch the virus or unknowingly pass it to them. Still, they are so proud of her.
“She is very determined to go to work and help save lives,” wrote daughter Maricon Gonzales in her Facebook post. “Her only answer is ‘May sinumpaan kaming tungkulin sa bayan.’ Yes, that is how committed my mom is…Risking her life to save others.”
Jionisia Rosario, Aileen Grace Carillo, John Matthew Villapol
These Filipino nurses left their safe jobs to fight COVID-19 in Spain
Second to the United States, Spain has over 200,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 25,000 deaths. Despite the grim figures, Jionisia, Aileen, and John—Filipino nurses based in Spain—left their safe, non-nursing jobs to join hospitals in their fight against the deadly virus.
In a story by ABS-CBN, John, a language teacher in Spain who was into emergency medical services in the Philippines, jumped at the chance. “Within two days, I was in the hospital.”
Jionisia, a babysitter for two years, said, “I don’t want to miss this job opportunity. It is also helping our fellow Filipinos and being of service to the society that has embraced me.”
Spain continues to show its gratitude to these dedicated frontliners. “One of my COVID patients thanked me before leaving the hospital. He said that the care and help I extended to him were priceless,” said Aileen, a former waitress. “When you hear those words from patients who were in a battle against death, it just boosts up your spirit to keep on.”
This National Nurses Day, please include our brave and tireless nurses in your prayers. And strive to emulate the resilience, commitment, and sincere desire to serve of these inspiring frontliners.