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Braving COVID-19’s ground zero – Volunteer nurses from Mindanao reinforce Metro Pacific Hospitals in National Capital Region+

Volunteer nurses from Mindanao

West Metro Medical Center NursesAs the long drawn out COVID-19 pandemic continues to overwhelm hospitals in the Philippines’ National Capital Region+, assistance from the MVP Group’s Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc. (MPHHI) is coming in as volunteer nurses from Mindanao brave the risks to help fellow medical front liners save more lives. Three hospitals in Mindanao have sent 16 nurses from their own rosters to reinforce their big sister hospitals in the nation’s capital.

West Metro Medical Center in Zamboanga City and Manuel J. Santos Hospital in Butuan City sent four nurses each from their pool to Makati Medical Center (Makati Med). Meanwhile, St. Elizabeth Hospital in General Santos City flew eight nurses to help Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

Twenty-two-year-old Raven Saavedra from West Metro said he and his three colleagues volunteered to be temporarily assigned at Makati Med when the hospital group was looking for nurses willing to fly to the nation’s capital. “I want to be part of this historical undertaking. I would like to help the people of Metro Manila especially at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging. Even if there’s this constant fear of getting infected, we are prepared for this. We are ready to help,” said Raven who expressed confidence that his experience in dealing with the coronavirus infection last year has prepared him for the challenges he will be facing at Makati Med. “We don’t just manage their symptoms. We also have to relieve their stress and anxiety because they’re afraid of what will happen next.”

Elviro FirmalinoElviro Firmalino, Jr. of St. Elizabeth is no stranger to this effort as he also joined the augmentation team last year which was deployed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Santa Mesa, Manila. When the 39-year old Infection Control nurse was asked by the hospital to fly to Manila one more time, he did not hesitate. “Of course, we’re also worried about COVID-19 especially now that there are more transmissible new variants. But we need to step up because no one else will. I’m doing this because I want the pandemic to end not just for me but for my parents because they are already senior citizens,” he said. Elviro is banking on his training in safe practices and procedures at St. Elizabeth Hospital to pull him through his assignment at Cardinal Santos.

Early this month, Augusto Palisoc, Jr., MPHHI President and CEO, called on the whole hospital group if they could come to the aid of embattled sister hospitals in Metro Manila, struggling with the surge of COVID-19 patients. Heeding the call, the three said hospitals revisited their rosters to see how they would be impacted if they decide to send some of their nurses to NCR. The three facilities are also designated COVID treatment centers and continue to admit coronavirus-positive patients.

SEHI Nursing Directress Aster May Magno-Aso said that despite the danger, she is proud of her nurses for having the courage and determination to help out in these very uncertain times. “Before flying to Manila, we equipped them with additional courses on donning and removing PPEs (personal protective equipment), as well as more intense trainings on infection control measures.” She added, “We’re also thankful for the cooperation of our remaining staff nurses who agreed to cover for their colleagues who volunteered to be reassigned in Manila.

MPHHI, an affiliate of the Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), has been working together to serve Filipinos during these extraordinary times. Support for the group’s frontliners is part of the ongoing efforts of TulongKapatid—the consortium of foundations, companies and affiliates under the leadership of MVP.

Volunteer nurses from Mindanao