Frontliner Story #3: Nemia Angana

Being Social During a Pandemic

By Justine Ngo

Edited by Dana Eunise Cruz

Frontliner sourcing by Christian Valmonte

Nemia Angana, a 28-year-old nurse, hasn’t had it easy since the start of the pandemic. Having worked in Malta Medical Center Inc. (MMCI) for around four years, she has already been accustomed to the in’s and out’s of the medical field. However, the circumstances started to change when the quarantine was declared.

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Poster by Cristina Arrobio

Nemia, like other medical frontliners, is affected by problems such as lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) and discrimination that are widely talked about online. Unfortunately, there are other obstacles that are unknown to many.

Being at the front line of the battle, the medical sector has been subject to numerous changes. Now, hospital workers are obligated to follow strict protocols for safety and health reasons. Firstly, Nemia’s hours on duty have been halved — from 96 hours per week to 48. It is safe to say that her interactions with both colleagues and patients have decreased due to the changes.

As wearing PPEs at all times has become a new norm for them, it has not only become uncomfortable for her to work, but also made it harder for her to properly communicate with their patients. Having a facemask on while talking can make their voices sound muffled when they communicate with one another.

Not only that, but Nemia also isn’t allowed to travel from one department to another. If she needs to contact a colleague, she would need to do so through other means: telephone, texts, or online, unless her presence is needed. Because of this, she can’t talk as much with her colleagues. As Nemia stressed, “Time management is a must.” Not to mention, her friendships and personal relationships have been put to a halt.

Furthermore, Nemia also deals with patients who don’t know and understand the new protocols she is following. She mentioned an anecdote concerning a patient coming in to have a diagnostic test and ultrasound. However, given the situation, hospitals aren’t accepting outpatients now so this caused some problems between the patient and the staff.

Another issue she cited was the fear caused by the unreliability of what the patients are telling her when it comes to important information. Nemia shared, “[W]e are not sure if they are telling the truth [about] their symptoms or travel history, even though we put a signage at the front saying ‘According to the law mandated, if they break the law by dishonesty, they will have a penalty’. Some are ignoring and not taking it seriously. All we can do is wear our complete PPE all the time.”

Amidst all these, she remains resilient, knowing this is all part of her duty as a nurse — to serve with dignity and a heart for service.

Nemia always starts her work with a prayer for guidance and strength. She stays hopeful, knowing that by following the guidelines mandated by the government and hospital, she will get through it all. Moreover, she sees to it that she boosts her immune system by taking vitamins and resting as much as she can.

Although she acknowledges the trials she faces, her burning passion and complete understanding of the current situation are what motivates her to keep going. Nemia, like the millions of frontliners working to keep the world spinning, is a source of hope proving that despite the sudden changes in her work, she can still help in alleviating the sufferings of our fellow Filipinos.

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