For the first time in two years, nurses in Georgia were able to physically gather again in a big event.
The Philippine Nurses Association of Georgia kicked off Nurses Week celebration by welcoming new members Like Jiovanni Paz who just arrived in the Peach State earlier this year.
"Having this connection, having this social balance makes me sane in this country," Paz said. She told ABS-CBN News that work has been manageable but she shares every healthcare workers' concerns.
For Myrna Gacusan, the association's newly elected president, the biggest concern is 'if the pandemic will recur.'
"It was really hard to practice nursing especially those at bedside," Gacusan noted. "People have become tired of the pandemic so people leave the profession, so Filipino nurses are trying to pitch in on that vacuum."
According to a Morning Consult poll, about one in five healthcare workers or 18% have quit their jobs since February 2020. 79% of those surveyed said staff shortages have affected them.
On Thursday, thousands of healthcare workers marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to advocate for better working conditions. They also wanted to honor hundreds of their fellow workers who died during the pandemic. This week, the United States marked one million Covid-19 deaths. Data from the National Nurses United last year showed that about 25% of registered nurses who died of Covid-19 were Filipinos.
Despite this, some nurses remain optimistic that things will get better.
"Hospital systems are trying to recruit new Filipino nurses from the Philippines, so that is one of their resolutions to overcome and resolve this staff shortage," Gacusan said.
In the meantime, the nurses vow to have each other's backs.