Sick Earth-Plague Day 318
MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino nurse has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her tireless work to support her colleagues and community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minnie Klepacz, matron for ophthalmology at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, felt “truly humbled” to be recognized for exceptional and outstanding service to the United Kingdom as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors.
.The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said a number of honors this year are given to recognize exceptional contributions during the coronavirus pandemic.
“What an incredibly proud day for Team (University Hospitals Dorset) – our brilliant matron Minnie has been recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honors list and awarded a British Empire Medal,” the UHD National Health Service Foundation Trust announced last Saturday.
In its report, the UHD said Klepacz leads the hospital’s Black Asian Minority Ethnic Network at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and drove the trust’s response to provide risk assessments for all BAME staff. She also created a well-being hub for her staff to relax and take time out in.
While doing all of these as well as her day-to-day matron duties, Klepacz also provided exceptional support for the Filipino community outside of her work, cooking meals for colleagues who were recovering after being in intensive care, helping others move house and organizing virtual community events to offer comfort and reassurance.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d get an award. I feel so privileged and honored,” she said.
“When I saw an email from the Cabinet Office, I was so worried, and thought I’d done something wrong. I plucked up the courage to read it again and responded asking if it was a spam email because I just couldn’t believe it. They told me it was true and then rang me to reassure me, I couldn’t believe it,” Klepacz added.
She has been working in the hospital for 19 years, having arrived from the Philippines to work in the UK as a teenager.
Klepacz, who lost 11 friends to the coronavirus, said, “COVID was really challenging, and most hospital staff affected by it came from a BAME background.”
She said she would send her medal to her family in the Philippines.
“Growing up, my mom always used to display all our awards prominently in the lounge as she was so proud of us all. As I can’t visit my family right now, it’s only right that they have my medal,” she said.
Publication of the honors list was postponed in June to include in the recognition those who played crucial roles in the pandemic.
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