Operation Smile Philippines’ Nurse Volunteer Faces COVID-19 Head On

Operation Smile Philippines’ Nurse Volunteer Faces COVID-19 Head On

It is not easy to be in quarantine at home to avoid getting COVID-19. But what if you had to go to the one place you know you are at most risk – every single day? That is what RN Summer Evangelista has to go through on a daily basis.

Summer is one of the longest-serving Operation Smile Philippines’ (OSP) nursing volunteers. She has been donating her time and talent since 2003 for the organization. Needless to say, she has touched and changed the lives of countless children who underwent much-needed cleft surgery. She has seen lives transformed tight in front of her countless times.

At the frontlines against COVID-19

At present, Summer is a Unit Supervisor at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center. She heads a staff of 16 people right at the heart of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. This is no easy task as she has to constantly be on top of her game. Not only does her staff rely on her leadership, but lives are also at stake with every medical decision she makes. Then the COVID-19 virus hit the country and she suddenly had a lot on her shoulders.

Much like most of her fellow OSP volunteers, Summer bravely faces the pandemic head-on. This is part of her sworn duty to practice her profession faithfully. Trying to stay at home is what most of the Filipino people are doing to try and flatten the curve. Summer suits up every day to report for work at the hospital to care for patients in need of urgent care.

It is a tough job

Being a nurse on a normal day is a tough task on its own. They have to face people who are probably having one of the worst days of their lives. When the novel coronavirus landed in the Philippines, their job became a lot more difficult. As much as PPE is needed, it is not easy to be wearing them the whole day. It is not uncommon to have it on for hours at a time. Summer mentions how she has seen her share of days where she is soaking wet from wearing PPE the whole day.

A close call

Risk is one thing she has to come to terms with as part of her job. With that, Summer recalls how a COVID-19 positive patient came through the hospital doors. This forced the whole ICU wing into self-quarantine for two weeks. More than taking care of herself, she made it a point to regularly check on her staff and reassure them that she is there if they need her.

Dealing with the mental stress

Summer shares also that one of the most challenging parts about the whole situation is the mental toll it brings. There are even times where she finds it hard to sleep at night knowing she has to report back for work the next day. It is not easy to push away thoughts about the possibility of getting infected. It has a way of getting to her emotionally, mentally, and physically.

One advantage Summer has is that she believes in the power of prayer. Praying is already a part of her daily habit. She never forgets to ask for protection and thank the Lord also for keeping her safe from the risks that her job entails. Before heading off to work, Summer always pauses for a moment and says a prayer.

Another thing that keeps her mind occupied when at home is baking. It helps keep her mind off of the stress and the fear of getting sick. It also helps her pass time and kill boredom as well. Checking up on her staff on how they are doing also helps fill up her day.

Think of WE

Summer also wants to emphasize the importance of staying at home for other people. She mentions that this is not about keeping one person safe but preventing a whole community from getting infected. Every action made by one person can have an effect on a lot of people. The concept of thinking about “WE” is crucial in helping flatten the curve.