LONDON – A Filipina nurse here is set to receive a British royal citation for her community work, including her contribution to the response to the London Bridge terror attack on June 3, 2017.
Joy Ongcachuy, 45, Lead Robotic Nurse at the Royal London Hospital, will receive an award as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) on April 4 in ceremonies at the Buckingham Palace.
“It’s very overwhelming receiving that phenomenal award. It’s not an ordinary award that I received. I consider it as one of the best gifts that I have,” said Ongcachuy.
It was an ordinary night shift for the Talisayan, Misamis Oriental native when injured victims were taken to the hospital, one of the closest medical facilities to the site of the June 2017 incident that involved vehicle ramming and a knife attack.
“Usually, when we are working at night, we are only two sets of nurses. When the hospital declared a major incident, I had to call people at home because we couldn’t accommodate the number of people who came to the hospital and to the theaters,” Ongcachuy recalled.
She stayed calm throughout the night until she finished her shift at 8 a.m. Ongcachuy is grateful that all 7 patients taken to the operating theaters survived and recovered well.
“We are absolutely delighted that Joy got her OBE, one of our very competent Band 6 sisters. She has worked here for a very long time. She ran the London Bridge incident night shift when she was on duty,” said Anne Gully, Matron at the hospital.
“She is a gold mine, like many other nurses from the Philippines: very hard working, very dedicated, very loyal to the Trust," she added.
A nursing graduate from Liceo de Cagayan in Cagayan De Oro, Ongcachuy always wanted to work abroad for a better future for her family. She started at the Royal London Hospital in 2002 as a scrub nurse.
Now, 17 years later, she leads 25 robotic nurses at the same hospital.
The OBE is an unexpected feather added in her cap, she said.
“I don’t need more. I think I am now in the peak of my career. I think that’s all I want,” said Ongcachuy.
A daughter of a former soldier and teacher, Ongcachuy described her provincial background as “average” and her beloved town as “ordinary.” She always dreamed of becoming a nurse.
“Since I was a child, I wanted to be a nurse because I want to care for people,” Ongcachuy said.
Ongcachuy is also thrilled that her only daughter has followed in her footsteps. She is studying nursing at the London Southbank University and got a placement at the A&E department of the same hospital where her mother is working.
Ongcachuy joins the league of famous British celebrities awarded the OBE, like David and Victoria Beckham, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley and Eddie Redmayne, among others.
The OBE is an order of chivalry for extraordinary contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public and community service.