Exit Spring Mountain

A year and counting of COVID in Las Vegas: The overworked

Episode Summary

The pandemic has had long-lasting and ongoing effects on healthcare workers around the world—but in the U.S., it's affected Filipino nurses in particular. Filipino nurses make up just 4% of nurses but accounted for a stunning 33% of nurse deaths in the early months of COVID. How has this affected the mental health of Filipino healthcare workers in a city like Las Vegas, where the Filipino population is our largest Asian ethnic group? And what are advocates doing to help?

Episode Notes

This episode is the second in a three-part series about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Southern Nevada's AAPI communities. Earlier this year, a startling statistic came to light: While Filipino nurses make up just 4% of nurses nationwide, they accounted for 33% of nurse deaths during the early months of the pandemic. Why was there such an outsized toll on Filipino nurses in particular? What effects does this have in a city like Las Vegas, where the Filipino population is our largest Asian ethnic group—three times the size of the next largest group, Chinese Americans? How do we start to address the mental health issues arising from this crisis, and where do we go from here?

We speak to Constancio Arnaldo, an Assistant Professor at UNLV, about the historical forces driving immigration from the Philippines to the U.S., and why so many of the Filipinos immigrating are care workers. Marianne Torio, a charge nurse at a large hospital in Las Vegas, and Grace Vergara-Mactal, Executive Director of SEIU 1107 (which represents healthcare workers), join us to discuss the toll that working on the front lines of COVID takes on healthcare workers' mental health. And Andrew Reyes, an Assistant Professor at the UNLV School of Nursing, tells us about the interventions he is developing to help healthcare workers overcome trauma—and how Filipino nurses develop resilience with the help of their communities.

Exit Spring Mountain is a podcast from Nevada Public Radio. Our team includes executive producer Sonja Cho Swanson, host Lorraine Blanco Moss, assistant producer Nessa Concepcion, academic research consultant Mark Padoongpatt, research assistant Karley Call, and news director Joe Schoenmann. Sound editing, mixing and mastering is by Regina Revazova of Open Conversation.

We’re dedicating this episode to all of the healthcare workers in Southern Nevada who have kept us safe and healthy throughout the pandemic. We see you, and we thank you. If you’re a frontline worker looking for mental health resources, visit covidmentalhealthsupport.org for a list of organizations. You can also visit therapyaid.org for free or low-fee therapy.