Filipina Nursing Assistant Among Californians Battling COVID-19 Pandemic

by Brian Yalung

There are several Filipinos who opted to live elsewhere and there are plenty in the medical field. Nurses have been in demand worldwide, and some have made a decent living in international waters and have been rewarded handsomely for their work.

Lhyn C. Gavilo, 45, is one of those people. She is a graduate of Computer Information Systems from Centro Escolar University (CEU) but opted to leave the country in 1995 to try something different. Originally from Quezon City, she is now a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) over at a medical center in California.

Lhyn C Gavilo  [photo credit: Lhyn C Gavilo ]
Lhyn C Gavilo [photo credit: Lhyn C Gavilo ]

Lhyn explained how one needed to pass the state exams to get a CNA license. As far as what a CNA does, she explained that it was more of working side-by-side with registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses. They spend the most time in a patient’s room compared to nurses.

Being a CNA since 2017, Lhyn has had her share of moments in the hospital setting. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic is like no other. She admits that it was only when a patient tested positive that she started getting scared.

“I wasn’t that scared until we had a patient who tested positive for COVID-19. I had to stay with her at the negative pressured room and make sure she would not remove the oxygen mask. After that, I was sent to the ER a week later. Being a single mom, it was here where it sunk in. I cried thinking of my 11-year-old son. It was the worst feeling ever and I felt like a dead man walking,” Lhyn recalled.

It has not been easy times for Lhyn who can still, fortunately, go home and see her son. But with the severity of the coronavirus, the 45-year-old single mother describes her routine when she gets home from the hospital and vice versa.

“Every time I come home from work, I bag and leave my scrubs and shoes outside of the house. I immediately take a shower,” she said.

As a precautionary measure, Lhyn revealed how she underwent COVID-19 testing. While waiting for the result, she admits that it was an awkward feeling since she had to wear a mask and distance herself from the people around her.

“I got swabbed at the ER, underwent X-rays and had my blood drawn. I was allowed to go home since two of my tests were normal. However, I still needed to isolate myself from my son and the people I was living with,” Lhyn recalled.

“Whenever I needed to go and use the bathroom, I had to wear a mask and make sure that nobody is in the way. Food was left outside the door, the same with other things I needed. I heaved a big sigh of relief on April 8 when the COVID-19 test results returned negative,” she added.

She admits that the aura over in their area is like a scene from the “Walking Dead”. Parks are empty and there were practically no cars in the freeway. Lhyn also added that people over there are pretty conscious of social distancing, one of the best practices that people are advised to do nowadays.

“At stores and if you get near someone, they will remind you (and sometimes scream) ‘social distancing.’ There was a time when I saw a shopper scream that to someone beside me,” she said.

Like in the Philippines, Lhyn narrates how they too have to line up when they need to buy essential things from stores. Store shelves are empty, particularly the ones with disinfecting wipes and toilet paper.

Lhyn C Gavilo  [photo credit: Lhyn C Gavilo ]
Lhyn C Gavilo [photo credit: Lhyn C Gavilo ]

Lhyn finds herself in a pretty tough spot but knows she needs to carry out her duties as a CNA. She only goes home after 12 hours of shift and barely has time to kiss or hug her son. She says this is what her co-workers are dealing with as well.

Even though she is far from the Philippines right now, Lhyn is keeping tabs with the developments. She is fully aware that some remain hard-headed as some continue to take the government and the guidelines set for granted. Before ending the interview, she was asked to provide the best advice she could give her kababayans.

“Stay home! Don’t go anywhere that you don’t need to be. Follow the government protocol, wear a mask whenever you go out and be sure to wash your hands regularly. For those wearing gloves, make sure your hands do not touch your face. As one of my co-workers said here: Treat everything dirty!” she ended.

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