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Filipino nurses, culture at Carle Foundation Hospital marks 20 years with a celebration

Filipino nurses, culture at Carle Foundation Hospital marks 20 years with a celebration
Carle Health welcomes nurses and other healthcare workers from many international locations and each adds to the work culture.

Twenty years ago Carle Foundation Hospital began a successful endeavor that continues today – one that brought a special group of nurses to our hospital and community, nurses who emigrated from the Philippines.

And on August 8, Carle nurses threw a party to recognize the anniversary of the first Filipino nurses recruited directly from the Philippines specifically to work at Carle Foundation Hospital.

There is a long history of Filipinos immigrating to the U.S. to work as nurses. And there were Filipino nurses working at Carle Foundation Hospital even before Carle Human Resources and Nursing began to actively recruit Filipino nurses to Urbana, but it was 20 years ago the first of those recruited nurses came on staff, Kat Monterroyo, international recruitment liaison for Nursing, said.

Members of the initial group were Annabelle Maylas, RN, Critical Care Unit; Vicente Piccio, RN, Inpatient Rehab; Karen Yap, RN, Observation; and Thelma Lamera, RN, Inpatient Pediatrics.

“We thought it would be great to honor the four nurses who actually paved the way for the rest of us to come,” Monterroyo said. “But it was not just them that we celebrated, but all of the Filipino nurses.”

Monterroyo said without the examples shown by these compassionate and dedicated nurses the Carle community maybe wouldn’t have embraced all those who have come since.

Audelle Abrinica, RN, CFN Med/Surg, and Edessa Capistrano, RN Supervisor, Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, planned the celebration, which mimicked a traditional barrio fiesta held in the Philippines. Carle Food Services went out of its way to prepare traditional fare. Ofelia White, a food service worker from the Philippines, helped guide Director Kevin Steffes and took him to the Filipino grocery store in town to get the proper food and ingredients. Some members of the Filipino nurses group also made extra dishes and desserts in order to achieve one of the typical goals for a barrio fiesta – an overflowing amount of food, Monterroyo said.

And Food Services even prepared four lechones – roasted pigs – outside the hospital kitchen. “This celebration held such meaning and importance to the participants, it was imperative that the Food Services team honor the traditions and celebration,” Steffes said. “We were able to do this by preparing dishes in an authentic manner. The input Ofelia White provided was invaluable and allowed the traditional fare to be just that. It is such a reward to see the appreciation and joy that food can bring to a celebration.”

The event took place at The Forum located on the campus of Carle Foundation Hospital, and started with remarks from CEO and President James C. Leonard, MD, and Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive, Elizabeth Angelo, DNP, RN, CPHQ, NEA-BC.

The four original Filipino nurses who began working at the hospital 20 years ago also spoke to the crowd which included Carle co-workers, friends and family members. Monterroyo pointed out that now some of the children and spouses of the Filipino nurses are also part of the Carle employee family.

Dr. Leonard said, “I think it’s important for me to let you know over 20 years ago when we began the planning of where we would reach out for the help that we desperately needed in the clinical areas, we didn’t just throw a dart at the map and say, ‘Okay  We’ll go there.’ No, we did our homework. What people really represent a culture that would mesh with who Carle was, and beyond that would bring a resilience, a spirit of can-do and courage that it takes to pick up and come here, that would make our culture better? And that’s exactly what’s happened. Filipino groups that came first really set the stage with a high bar and I’m glad so many of you are here in order to say, ‘Thank you.’”

One of the original four nurses, Vicente Piccio, remembers those tentative first steps at Carle, and offers some perspective for future recruits.

“Having to leave the comforts of what is familiar and what has been gotten used to is indeed quite unnerving at first,” he said.

“Twenty years ago, the four of us also came to Carle ridden with anxiety and full of self-doubts about whether we can handle things successfully.

“However, one has to only open their mind and work to learn the new things while allowing oneself the time to adjust; appreciate the novelty and adopt it to be your own. Before you realize it, you will also come to consider Carle to be your new home.”

Carle Health still recruits nurses from the Philippines and expects new nurses to arrive when the U.S. State Department allows them to receive Visas to work in the U.S., something that is currently on hold.

When new nursing team members arrive, they are welcomed, encouraged and supported by a vibrant group of nurses, including a strong contingent of nurses from the Philippines, who are invested in their success and an important part of Carle.

“I feel gratitude for the way you have become a part of the fabric of Carle,” Angelo said to the Filipino nurses at the celebration. “You have become preceptors and educators and leaders. You’ve certified and become leveled and have gone back to school. Your commitment to excellence has raised the bar for all of us and I truly believe our patients receive higher quality care because you are on our team.”

Categories: Culture of Quality, Community

Tags: Carle Foundation Hospital, Nurses, Phillippines