UAE: Forming connections with patients during Covid inspired Filipina nurse to keep serving

Iris Ena Diel was among thousands of healthcare heroes who sacrificed their own lives and safety to protect the community


Ismail Sebugwaawo

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram


Iris Ena Diel —Supplied photo
Iris Ena Diel —Supplied photo

Published: Thu 12 May 2022, 8:30 AM

Last updated: Thu 12 May 2022, 8:32 AM

Though treating patients during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic posed challenges, Filipina nurse Iris Ena Diel remembers that period of her life fondly.

As the world celebrates International Nurses Day on May 12, Diel says being a frontline worker during the pandemic inspired her to continue serving people for the rest of her life.

Diel, who was assigned to work at Sharjah Expo Field Hospital from Umm Al Quwain, was among thousands of healthcare heroes across the Emirates who sacrificed their own lives and safety to protect community members.

During the three months she worked there, dealing with adults and children daily, she formed strong bonds.

"I don't think there is anyone in the world who hasn't experienced something unexpected due to Covid-19," she said. "For me, it was the valuable human connections I made with patients and colleagues. So much so that when I was relocated from the 'frontline', I experienced a sort of separation anxiety."

As part of the key medical workforce team at Sharjah Expo Field Hospital, Diel's daily tasks involved patient admission, monitoring vital signs, and ECG, as well as administering medication.

Despite working in a 'stressful' environment, Diel quickly made friends with her new colleagues, which she describes as vital for coping with the demands of the job.

"The one thing that got me through was the sense of camaraderie," she said. "It made the job easier for all of us. At times, we would have lunch together, and on our rest days, we would go running or walking in the early evening on Sharjah's Corniche. This was a great way to clear our minds and de-stress after the hospital's busy days.

"The Ministry also pampered us; they provided us with a four-star hotel accommodation, free food, and laundry, which certainly helped alleviate stress."

She added: "One of the most important aspects of our work was lifting the spirit and morale of patients and educating them about hygiene practices to minimise the spread of the virus once they leave the hospital. Before they were discharged, we would spend time with each patient guiding them on how to take best care of themselves in the future."


Having played a key role during the pandemic, Diel is proud to have given back to the community at a critical time and is committed to lifelong service.

"I also learned that I was working for the safety of humanity in general. I am from the Philippines, but I was treating patients from so many different nationalities that I felt my work was actually for the well-being of humanity.

"After three months in Sharjah, I returned to the clinic in Umm Al Quwain. It was a strange feeling because I missed my friends and colleagues from the field hospital, and I felt sad to be apart from them. It made me truly value my profession, and now I know that I will always work in this field. With my experience during this pandemic, I know it is where I belong."

More news from