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Nurse Of Non-COVID-19 Patients On Her Life As An Essential Worker Now


In this crisis, we are bringing you the voices of essential workers - people who, day after day, leave their homes to keep society running. Today, a health care worker who looks after some of society's most vulnerable.

MARIA LIM: Yes, we are essential workers. We have a job to do. Who's going to take care of the patients if we're not there?

It's Friday, almost 2 p.m. My name's Maria Lim. I am a licensed vocational nurse working in a long-term care facility. And I work with geriatric patients - you know, our older generation. I also work with ventilator-dependent patients and those who just came from the hospital who need rehab.


LIM: I'm off today, but I had to go to my facility earlier because we were able to get about 200 pieces of masks donated by our union representative. And when I got to the facility, I was distributing this and making sure that everybody, especially those who are doing direct patient care, would have a mask. And I was giving them out. Like, the staff were so excited. They were so happy. They were so grateful. And they wanted to make sure, you know, that we guarded our lives because they were saying, like, this is gold right know, Maria. This is gold. And I was telling them, yeah, exactly.


LIM: We're also washing our hands more a lot. There's a lot of complaints about bad, dry skin - you know, a lot of cracks on your skin when that happens, and that's another avenue for infection.

We mostly work 12-hour days, and we work three days. And by the time we get off work to go to the store, there's not enough stuff there to buy. So normally, my Thursday has been grocery shopping not just for me because I have family members in other households who are immunocompromised or has chronic diseases, so I shop for them, too.


LIM: Today I got my first free breakfast from McDonald's (laughter). So I didn't know what to say. I was like, OK, what do I say? Like, so I said, good morning. I would like to avail of your free breakfast for health care workers. And they was like, OK. Yeah. Just come up. I'll give you a receipt, and you give it to the takeout. I'm like, oh, my God. I actually get free breakfast.


LIM: And I thanked them. Like, you guys are essential, too, because you're helping us out. And we're helping out the people who cannot help themselves.

KELLY: That is Maria Lim, a member of the Service Employees International Union. She works in a long-term care facility in Orange County, Calif.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN FAHEY'S "DANCE OF DEATH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.