National Nurses United

National Nurse magazine July-August-September 2020

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City in the Philippines. Her mother, Remedios Quillopa, taught English, and her father, Felipe Quillopa, ran a public transportation business. They were not poor, but money was always tight. During their vacations, the five girls would help out in the family's rice fields. "It was hard," remembered her sister, Carmelita Avellano. "It was manual work, there was no machinery." Avellano says she and her older sister saw the young women in their neighborhood become nurses and move to places across the world, to London or the United States. "We could see the progress of their life, so we imitated them," said Avellano whose family sold off pieces of their land so they could pay for the girls' nursing school tuition. After Malimban graduated, she went to the U.S. Embassy where American employers would post job notices. When Malimban landed a job in a Chicago nursing home in 1978, she said goodbye to her home and flew to the Midwest by herself. But when the Chicago winters proved too cold, she moved to Southern California where she met her husband, Ray Malimban. "My dad's mom had fallen at her house picking fruit, so she went to the hospital," said Shalimar. "My mom was her nurse and that is how she met my dad." The two made a home in Diamond Bar where they raised their two children, Shalimar and Justin, now 28. Their household expanded when Malimban's parents and two of her sisters, Carmel- ita and Sol, moved in. Two other sisters, Delia and Ofelia, remained in the Philippines. "We were all living in one house, with four rooms," said Justin. "So, there was one room for my mom and dad, one for my aunts, one for my sister and I, and one for my grandma and grandpa." In the 1980s, Evangaline Cadiente met Malimban when the two worked together as nurses in Monterey Park, California. The two were so close, they followed each other to three hospitals for nearly three decades and carpooled together for years. "She called me Manang, that is, big sister, and I called her Ading, for little sister," said Cadiente. She described her longtime friend as someone who was beloved by her patients and her coworkers for her renditions of Godspell songs, her jokes, and the joy she shared with others. "Estrella always sings when putting patients on the [dialysis] machine," recalled Cadiente. "And when we finished putting patients on the machine, we would put on the music and she would start dancing. That is why all the patients loved her." Cadiente said Malimban's compassion and her medical precision were constants at work. She knew how to cheer up patients who were facing the difficulties of chronic illness. "She made her patients laugh," said Cadiente. "There was never a dull moment with her." The two friends bought houses next door to each other in the Philippines and made plans to spend their retirement together. The houses were on the same street as the Quillopa family home in Que- zon City. "We are like salmon, wherever you are born, you come back," said Cadiente. "We are just like salmon; Filipinos are like that. Estrella and I, we wanted to tour around the Philippines, especially the islands we haven't been. Because when we were young, all we did was study and work." Avellano says when Covid hit she decided to resign from her nursing job for fear of getting ill. She encouraged her sister to con- sider retiring as well but Malimban did not heed her advice. "I tried to convince, her, she said, 'One more year, one more year' [before she retires]," said Avellano. "What can we do if she doesn't want to resign?" Shalimar, too, asked her mother if she needed to keep working. "She looked at me like, I was crazy," said Shalimar and told her daughter, "'Of course I have to work. I can't not work.'" Fearing for her mother's health, Shalimar started doing the shop- ping, but Malimban told her family she was concerned about the lack of personal protective equipment at Arrowhead Regional Medi- cal Center and the dialysis clinic where she worked. "She wasn't given N95 masks from the hospital," said Shalimar. She says her mother did her best to protect herself and her family, wearing a surgical mask, a cloth mask, and a face shield. "There was a point where I would see her washing her cloth masks at night after a 12-hour shift." Malimban was at work on July 15 when she started feeling ill. She called her daughter to say she was walking over to the hospital's emergency room. Shalimar says her mother was seen in a tent and told to go home and rest. It took a week before Malimban's test came back positive for Covid and her family took her to the hospital. She died a few days later on July 28; she was 65 years old. Justin says his mother loved to travel and he remembers both her fear and delight when they went river rafting and helicopter touring in Alaska. She had recently travelled to Finland to visit friends from the Philippines and hoped to go with her son to visit family who lived in New Zealand. She had suggested the two could buy a little house there as an investment for their future. But she never got the chance. Justin and Shalimar said their mother was a joyful person who taught them to work hard and encouraged them to create the life they wanted for themselves. Justin says that during his last conver- sation with his mother, he was able to tell her he was accepted to a master's program for health informatics. "I feel good about that," he said. "She always wanted us to do well in life and take care of people like she takes care of us." As Justin grieves for his mother, he says he feels for all those who have been lost to Covid-19. "It takes a toll on everyone's life," he said. "Over a million deaths worldwide, over 210,000 in the United States. I feel like we all wish they were still alive, but we have to live with the reality of that and we have to get through this together." Avellano says it breaks her heart that her sister will never get to enjoy the fruits of her investments after so many years of hard work. As for Cadiente, she is thinking of selling her retirement home in the Philippines. She says she just doesn't see herself living there without her friend by her side. —Rachel Berger Sally Solon Fontanilla, RN sally solon fontanilla, rn, died of Covid-19 on Oct. 5, 2020. She worked in the telemetry and Covid unit at St. Mary Medical Center Apple Valley. She passed very close to press time, so we plan to profile her in an upcoming issue. —Staff report Nancy Veto, RN nancy veto, rn, died of Covid-19 on May 26. She worked in the intensive care unit at Community First Hospital in Chicago. Unfor- tunately, we were unable to gather enough information as of press time but will continue to try and profile her in a future issue. —Staff report J U LY | A U G U S T | S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0 W W W . N A T I O N A L N U R S E S U N I T E D . O R G N A T I O N A L N U R S E 35

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