As we mark International Nurses’ Day on Thursday 12th May, we also celebrate the arrival of the very first Filipino nurses to Whiston Hospital.
Wednesday 11th May marks the 20th anniversary since 10 inspirational nurses made the long journey from the Philippines to work here in Merseyside, leading the way for a further 73 nurses soon following suit throughout the rest of 2002.
Infection Prevention Nurse Specialist, Alice Cruz, was one of the very first to touchdown in London in May 2002, along with Angelita Custuna, Rossan Ortiz, Mirabel Estinozo, Teresita Macaraig, Norayda Rivera, Mylen Orzame, Emmanuel De Castillo, Maricel Centeno, and Gerardo Gohetia, with the group then making the coach journey up the M6 to their ultimate destination in the Northwest.
Pioneers of their time, these special nurses broke new ground for international recruitment within the Trust, and after two decades, 54 members of the original group still work in the hospital.
Twenty years ago, a total of 83 newly qualified nurses entered into the unknown, taking up the exciting opportunity to work in brand-new country. Over the years, they have seen their careers thrive, with staff working in the Intensive Care Unit, Theatres, Critical Care Units, and Accident and Emergency, and many promoted to Ward Sister, Nurse Specialist, Clinic Manager and Bed Manager roles within the Trust.
Sharing this unique experience between them, this extraordinary group have forged an unbreakable bond over the years and continue to support each other in all aspects of their lives.
Alice then and now
Alice is now 50, and has lived in Whiston for the past 20 years. She studied a BSc in Nursing at the University of the Assumption in Pampanga, leaving her husband and 4 year old daughter back in the Philippines to start her new career, but was able to return to the UK with them 12 months later.
Alice’s daughter Alyssa Real Cruz is now 23 and has followed in her mother’s healthcare footsteps and is now working as a pharmacist.
Alice said “At the time it was so scary and emotional to move to a new country and leave my family behind, but everyone was so welcoming and supportive. I’m so grateful to work here and have had so many opportunities to progress my career and most of us have gone on to develop our own individual specialities.”
“Being Filipino, we are automatically extended family. We all stay in touch, help each other out and go for meals together when we can. We are a home away from home for each other, and we always look out for new Filipino nurses when they arrive at the Trust to welcome them.”