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COVID-19 has taken a dramatic toll on Filipino nurses

Of all the registered nurses who died from COVID-19, 21% were Filipino, even though they only make up 4% of all nurses.

HOUSTON — Long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Filipino nurses have played a big role as frontline healthcare workers.

While it’s something they are deeply proud of, many Filipino nurses paid the ultimate price when COVID hit.

An NNU study of the pandemic revealed grim results. Of all registered nurses who died of COVID, 21% were Filipino even though they only make up 4% of nurses.

Gloria Lamela Beriones was born in the Philippines, but has called Houston home for decades. She’s one of nine children, three of which are now nurses. 

She’s also President of the Philippine Nurses Association of America.

“We help each other. If you see someone not doing well, you offer to help with no expectations in return,” Beriones said.

Generations of Filipinos have followed careers in nursing.

National Nurses United President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez is also Filipina. She says the last two years have been very tough on the community.

“We had more exposure to the very sick COVID patients. That took a toll on us,” said Triunfo-Cortez.

She also believes it could be related to the willingness to nurture others at their own expense. 

“You tend to overlook your own welfare for the welfare of the group. I think it’s a very traditional Filipino trait that, for some reason, we can’t shake,” Triunfo-Cortez said.

It’s a trait many Filipino nurses are also proud to share.

“The Filipino people are religious, resilient, very hospitable. They are generous, kind, caring and compassionate people,” Beriones said.

She says another common trait is that family always comes first. Nursing is a way to do what they do best: provide for loved ones by caring for others.

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