A united healthcare team

Voices from the Frontlines of COVID19

How Medical Heroes Cope During the Pandemic

A united healthcare team

As the Coronavirus rages across the world, our medical workers and first responders continue to amaze us through their selfless acts of heroism and compassion. Despite the danger, they return to the frontlines every day and save countless lives. Their perseverance is absolutely humbling.

In a previous article, we highlighted the role of healthcare workers during a pandemic. Today, we will share words from medical personnel on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before getting started, we want to express our gratitude to these brave men and women. They risk their lives to protect us, and we rarely hear their names. We were honored to have a few of them speak with us and share their stories.

From Nursing Directors to ICU Nurses, we bring you six fearless heroes from the frontlines of this tragic outbreak. Over the coming weeks, we will publish a special feature article for each of these remarkable individuals.

Jennifer Maureen Kalugdan

Jennifer Maureen Kalugdan

Director of Nursing

Graduate of Unitek College, 2005

Jennifer Maureen Kalugdan is a Director of Nursing for a wellness center in Fremont, California. There, she leads her nursing staff to deliver excellent patient care. Jennifer also guides her staff through additional education, training, and skills to boost their experience as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).

Part of Jennifer’s daily work is to ensure that all policies and procedures are followed correctly. She meets her goals with the help of a stellar administrative team.

Biggest Challenge During COVID-19?

Jennifer’s primary goal is to keep COVID-19 out of her facility. She works hard to support her staff and the residents of her facility.

According to Jennifer, the pandemic has greatly affected her work.

“This is one of the situations in which I had to step up as being a nurse and a leader to my team. This pandemic changed the whole world. Work wise, we just added more education and training and ensure safe practices, especially when it comes to screening of staff and infection control. As our Niles Canyon/Hillside team would say: We will fight this together. We also had our challenges with staffing, but the whole team in every department has jumped in and helped when tasks needed to be done.”

Jennifer’s Advice to Other Healthcare Workers

“Don’t give up and do the best that you can.”

(Click here to read Jennifer’s full story)

Luciano Virgilio

Luciano Virgilio

ICU Registered Nurse

Graduate of Unitek College, 2016

As an ICU Registered Nurse (RN) in San Leandro, California, Luciano has been on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Assessment and implementation of care are the most important responsibilities of an ICU RN. From the start of each shift, Luciano thinks of patient assessment as an ongoing activity that requires critical thinking to ensure the well-being of his patients.

Biggest Challenge During COVID-19?

One of Luciano’s biggest hurdles is the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Other challenges include the restricted family visitations for patients as well as the increased stress and tension among the staff.

As Luciano told us:

“The heightened focus on infection control and the lack of proper PPEs makes the daily routine at work extremely exhausting and, at times, unsafe.”

Luciano’s Advice to Other Nurses

“Leave your insecurities behind and be confident in all the knowledge you have access to. Being unable to cope with this crisis should make you reflect on the very reason why you wanted to become a nurse.”

(Click here to read Luciano’s full story)

Woman with long, dark hair wearing a grey sweater

Maria Audry P.

Admissions Director, Rehabilitation Center

Graduate of Unitek College, 2016

Maria is an Admissions Director for a post-acute rehabilitation center in San Francisco, California. Her typical day includes reviewing hospital referrals for new patients entering her facility. It’s her job to welcome new residents while assisting them with the admission process. Above all else, Maria strives to ensure that each resident has a pleasant stay while in her care.

Biggest Challenge During COVID-19?

For Maria, the pandemic has lengthened the hospital’s referral-review process. Above all else, her family has been her primary concern during the pandemic.

In Maria’s words:

“The feeling of worry that I may bring COVID-19 home to my love ones.”

Maria’s Advice to Other Healthcare Workers

“This too shall pass!”

(Click here to read Maria’s full story)

Jeannevy Belarde

Jeannevy Belarde

Director of Nursing

Graduate of Unitek College, 2017

Jeannevy Belarde is a Director of Nursing in Hayward, California. In addition to addressing the needs of her staff, Jeannevy must enforce the policies and procedures of her facility.

In times of crisis, leaders like Jeannevy must also shoulder extra responsibilities to care for their patients. They work longer hours and make difficult decisions to ensure their facilities are adequately staffed at all times.

Biggest Challenge During COVID-19?

In one word, Jeannevy has penned the most challenging aspect of her job:


Beyond that, Jeannevy tries her best to comfort patients and staff. She’s there to assure them of her care and support no matter the circumstance.

Jeannevy’s Advice to Other Healthcare Workers

“Be strong for the patients, families, and staff and show them you are with them in this battle.”

(Click here to read Jeannevy’s full story)

Giselle Loi at work

Giselle Loi

Registered Nurse

Graduate of Unitek College, 2019

Giselle Loi works as an RN in San Francisco, one of the hardest hit epicenters of the U.S. Coronavirus pandemic. Registered Nurses like Giselle must provide triage, physicals, immunizations, and return-to-work clearances on a daily basis.

A typical day in her life includes video visits with employees who need an evaluation before they can return to work. She also performs re-employment exams, physicals, and drop-ins for immunizations. In addition, Giselle triages patients with potential new injuries or COVID-related symptoms.

Biggest Challenge During COVID-19?

“Instability and the unknown.”

According to Giselle, the pandemic has impacted her work in a myriad of ways. It has increased her responsibilities, prompting her to train other nurses so that she can delegate tasks and attend to COVID-related duties.

Giselle’s Advice to Other Healthcare Workers

“There’s only so much you can do. Take it one day at a time.”

(Click here to read Giselle’s full story)

Patricia Grace Martinez

Patricia Grace Martinez

Director of Nursing

Graduate of Unitek College, 2017

Patricia Grace Martinez is a Director of Nursing in California. It is her job to empower nurses while improving outcomes for both staff and residents. She also provides stable leadership, engages in decision-making, and takes accountability for their practice.

Biggest Challenge During COVID-19?

Some of Patricia Grace’s biggest challenges revolve around staffing. These have included general understaffing, burnouts of remaining staff, and staff becoming sick. Overcoming fear of infection has been another challenge.

When we asked Patricia Grace about her greatest challenges, she had this to say:

“Being strong, dedicated, and positive even when you’re starting to feel that your nursing department is falling apart.”

Patricia’s Advice to Other Healthcare Workers

“Always be positive. God will not give you these challenges if he knows we can’t surpass it. Keep your spirit up, find strength, and remember—you became a nurse because of your love, care, passion, dedication, and commitment to your chosen profession.”

(Click here to read Patricia’s full story)

Gratitude for Healthcare Workers Across the Globe

In the coming weeks, we will share an in-depth look at each of these healthcare heroes.

Don’t forget; there are countless individuals fighting to keep us safe. Please honor their service and sacrifice during these unprecedented times.

A simple thank you will never be enough, but we would like to say it: Thank you. You are our heroes.