Angelique Rosete is a gynecology and trophoblastic nurse, and a research coordinator at the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) who is currently finishing her thesis in the Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN) program of UP Open University (UPOU).
She was one of three nurses who shared their COVID-19 experiences in “Who Takes Care of the Caregivers?”, the latest installment of the UPOU Let’s Talk it Over online lecture series that was streamed live on June 11 in UPOU Networks. It was organized by the UPOU MAN program of the Faculty of Management and Development Studies.
Rosete likened her experience to elements in “batas ng classroom” (law of the classroom), the meme that recently went viral. In a class, she said, people learn and gain strength from each other. During her first week of duty as part of Team 3 when UP-PGH started operating as a COVID-19 referral center, she said, “We felt like we were going to war.” Her anxiety increased with each passing day and she isolated herself from her peers.
But she pushed herself to have a positive attitude and focused on providing forms of community service “to gain back [her] sanity”. She provided carpool services, looked for nearby accommodations for co-workers, and participated in surveys that she knew would help in the formulation of strategies against COVID-19. It was in the course of her volunteer work that she developed a dry cough and had headaches. She was tired and felt afraid. Getting transferred from a non-COVID-19 ward to a medical intensive care unit COVID-19 ward did not make things easier for her.
“Bawal lumabas” (going out is prohibited), she said, just like in the meme. There were limited supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) back then. No doffing of her level 4 PPE for less exposure, she explained. No bathroom breaks and no food or liquid intake for the entire shift in PPEs that felt like “sauna suits.” She still had a dry cough and was told by a resident-on-duty that she needed to get tested for COVID-19. She had to self-quarantine for 14 days. “Bawal lumabas.”
She was negative for SARS-CoV-2 and was diagnosed instead with an allergic cough. Rosete was grateful that her condition was taken into consideration by her superiors. who then assigned her to a non-COVID area, with patients who tested negative. But a fellow nurse got infected and Rosete was now a suspect case. She had to be tested and self-isolated for the second time. “Bawal lumabas.”
Again, she had a negative result.
“As the meme says, if you comply, ay pwede na pala ikaw lumabas” (you can now go out), she said with a laugh, talking about adherence to safety and quarantine protocols. She credited the people around her—her husband and baby, other family members, friends, colleagues, and the UP-PGH administrators—for continuing to take care of her and helping her get through this pandemic. She is also thankful for individuals and organizations that have been making her and her UP-PGH co-workers feel appreciated and valued through donations of PPEs, food, and other necessities.
Rosete said of nurses, “Kami’y mapapagod pero hindi susuko” (We’ll get tired but we’ll never give up).