By Dana Eunise Cruz
Edited by Serina Mara Alonzo
Frontliner sourcing by Vim Casinabe
Rene Anthony Ramirez, 31, Operating Room Nurse (Davao Doctors Hospital), Single Father
“Routine: Wake up in the morning, go to work, have coffee.”
That was how Reno Ramirez described a typical day at work before the pandemic. He even recounted the day he first heard of COVID-19 in the news. “It was a typical day at work,” he said. “We talked about it a little but we didn’t extensively discuss the protocols should the situation get worse. It was really up to the healthcare workers to inform themselves. At first, we admitted many suspected cases for COVID. We didn’t think about it that much. It’s just like the flu!, we thought. You won’t contract it if your immune system is strong. But none of us were prepared.”
Being an operating room nurse, he knew his job was no easy feat. “Even before COVID, a nurse is already exposed to many diseases. HIV, for example. Diseases can be transmitted with blood alone. There are many risks,” he shared. As the pandemic progressed, the risks nurses like him needed to face everyday multiplied. “Before COVID, we were comfortable. We didn’t worry about lacking medical or cleaning supplies until PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) and masks became scarce. It is not just our hospital that was taken by surprise. Even the government was not prepared. It’s hard, but we still serve,” he shared.
That does not prevent him from worrying about the financial constraints of possibly being COVID-positive. With the continuous exposure, lack of PPEs, and their current salary of around 15,000 pesos and hazard pay of 200 pesos, it is not easy for him to think of such a possibility.
Amidst the compromising position he is in, Reno is happy to have his family with him right now. At present, he receives support from his parents. “They supported me. They didn’t tell me to resign. They understood my line of duty. They told me it’s what I studied for and it’s a responsibility I should do for as long as I can handle it.”
Although he planned on meeting his child in Tagum, he was not able to do so and took it as a blessing in disguise — a blessing to continue working in a profession which he saw as an ‘act of service’ rather than a mere job.
“I keep in mind that what we do isn’t just for us but out of faith and for other people. If you serve for God, it helps [with the stress],” he said. For Reno, having faith was his best way of coping with the stressful situation in hospitals today.
He’s also thankful to be born a Filipino. “Good thing about this is we’re Filipinos. Smiling is part of our culture. Even if storms hit us, once a camera is pointed at us, we’re all smiles. That hasn’t changed to this day,” he states as he describes the ways in which being surrounded by people who smile even in the most depressing situations has helped him to keep going as a frontliner.
Reno shares his message to fellow frontliners: “Just hang in there. It’s the time to shine for us nurses. We’re not just ‘plain room nurses’. We’re also exposed to diseases on a daily basis, even before COVID. If you think of, [we’re] like soldiers. So just hang in there. At this point, they say ‘stay negative’ but think positive. Have faith. This isn’t just for us but for the country as well.”
This coming Father’s Day, it is time to extend thanks to all the father-frontliners who serve and fight the threat of COVID-19. Let us recognize their sacrifices and small acts of resilience as they continue to fulfill their duty to keep us safe during this pandemic.
To all frontliners who devote themselves to saving lives during times of crisis, The Frontliner Today salutes you.