Filipino nurse awarded the British Empire Medal for COVID-19 efforts

Published Oct 12, 2020 11:03:24 AM

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — A Filipino nurse based in England has been feted by Queen Elizabeth II for the support she has offered to her colleagues and community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnie Klepacz, a matron for ophthalmology at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, was awarded a British Empire Medal, the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust announced on October 10.

Klepacz, along with other unsung heroes of the global health crisis, were among the 414 names recognized in The Queen’s 2020 birthday honours list.

The Trust said Klepacz leads the hospital’s Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic network, providing risk assistance for the staff. She also created a hub to allow her staff to rest amid the high demands of their job.

Aside from her matron duties, she also offered support to the Filipino community outside of work hours by cooking meals for colleagues recovering after being in intensive care, helping others move house and organizing virtual community events to offer comfort and reassurance.

She has been working in the hospital in Dorset, England since she immigrated from Manila in 2001. She said she was surprised and honored to be recognized in the Queen’s birthday honours list, adding she will send the medal she received to the Philippines.

“I’m going to send my medal home to the Philippines. Growing up, my mum 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 they have my medal,” she told UHD.

The publication of the honours list was postponed in June — when the Queen celebrates her official birthday — so those who played crucial roles in the pandemic could be honored.