A Story Told by Dina Villaluz
“It could have been me, you know? When I learned that my partner had died from COVID-19, I felt so bad. He was a good man and a good nurse.
“We had worked together at the hospital when the cases started piling up. I had doubts about coming in; I was 76 years old. I might be the first one to get hit. What was I doing there?
“But I had been healthy all my life and was feeling strong. Besides, I never really stopped being a nurse. Even after my official retirement, I was still coming in to work at the VA or at Mount Sinai.
“But this pandemic hit us so quickly that we were not able to prepare ourselves. My partner and I were responsible for ensuring critical safety measures at admissions by providing bed and staffing needs. I also took care of preparing the carts and supplies the medical teams needed at that point: the PPEs, the gloves, and all that’s necessary for protection.
“And then I got sick. My daughter took me to the hospital where I was placed into the ICU and eventually had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator. Because of the medication I was given, I barely remember anything. I was ventilated for 8 days and spent two weeks in the ICU. After being discharged, I went to rehab for three weeks.
“My partner passed away during the time I was sick. He was one of the many nurses who came to work despite knowing the battle they’ll be facing. It takes commitment, dedication, and courage to be a nurse. This is what we do. This is what we’ve been doing for decades, pandemic or not.
“I turned 77 while in rehabilitation. I am alive. Maybe I’m still here because my mission on earth is not yet over. I can still serve.”
Do you know any Asian American frontline heroes? In the fight against COVID-19, Asian Americans have been giving heroic service as frontliners, cure seekers, truth tellers, caregivers, and providers.New stories every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Learn more about our series as we say thank you to these Asian American heroes and honor their impact on our AARP AAPI Facebook channel.
Posted by AARP AAPI Community on Thursday, June 25, 2020