Cebu City nurse sheds light on post-Odette challenges amidst pandemic

May 30, 2022

Cebu City nurse sheds light on post-Odette challenges amidst pandemic

Despite the risks posed by the pandemic, frontline healthcare workers have continued providing support and help to those who need it the most. One of them is Nurse Flor Tibay of Barangay Ermita in Cebu City.

Nurse Flor has worked as a public health nurse in the barangay for eight years. She's also worn many hats in the course of career, handling the neighboring villages of Pasil and Suba and going on duty at the city's COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center. She also provided assistance to arriving passengers at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and handled swab tests and contract tracing.

"These various roles have been very challenging for me. However, this also gave me a unique perspective on handling the pandemic and seeing the different problems and appropriate ways to address them," Flor shared.

Cebu was among the islands heavily affected by supertyphoon Odette in December 2021. Residents had to endure having no power, which meant having little to no access to clean water sources. This posed the challenge of surviving a natural disaster while in a pandemic.

During typhoons, one of the first steps in disaster preparedness is to evacuate people from areas prone to flooding, storm surges, and landslides to ensure their safety. Before the pandemic, classrooms and multi-purpose halls were often used as evacuation centers. They were crammed with people without consideration for privacy.

Safety measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks have become the norm. However, health workers still face risks and challenges. If somebody from an evacuation center contracts COVID-19, this could lead to other people being infected.

"Having no water source is also one of the main challenges we faced after Odette. We had a hard time looking for any water source for drinking and domestic purposes," Flor said. When an intense typhoon strikes, there will most likely be a loss of power.

When Typhoon Odette struck, power was cut across the whole Cebu province. Banks, gas stations, phone lines, and internet services have been rendered useless. Even more, hospitals were incapacitated to care for critical condition patients. But because of Cebu Private Power Corp. (CPPC), electricity in vital areas in Cebu City was restored three days after the typhoon's onslaught.

CPPC was the first to operate and deliver power, through its direct connection to Visayan Electric Company, Inc. (VECO). CPPC provided 18 megawatts of power to pumping stations of MCWD and to V. Rama Avenue and B. Rodriguez Street, where Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center is located. The power supply was also made available to Chong Hua Hospital, Perpetual Succour Hospital, and the Cebu Capitol.

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Like all the other frontline healthcare workers in Cebu City, Nurse Flor felt a slight relief. Even though power was not immediately available to all areas, it was there to provide where it was needed the most.

"Having a power supply is vital at the height of the pandemic. First and most importantly, it is needed to maintain the cold chain management of the vaccines. If vaccines are not kept in cold storage, it can cause less vaccine potency and effectiveness," she explained.

She also noted that patients, particularly infants and toddlers, were uncomfortable without ventilation from electric fans back then. Health workers also weren't able to sterilize their medical instruments properly.

Natural disasters reveal just how vital the power supply is. Most people rely on a stable supply of electricity. Once lost, much can be at stake. Businesses can't operate, and even lives are hampered. Healthcare workers have it much more difficult because they carry the burden of taking care of the sick and people in critical condition.

But through CPPC’s quick response in powering key areas and vital institutions, Nurse Flor was able to help the community get back on its feet.

In these challenging times, resilience and collaboration are crucial to bouncing back stronger. Responding to calamities and global pandemics isn’t something an individual or a single organization can do alone. Nurse Flor and companies like CPPC are a testament to that. As the world continues to face its share of hurdles, communities can rest assured that there will always be those who will have their backs.

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