Spouses of frontliners: No place in health care for unvaxxed RNs

Judith Sanchez and wife Menchu de Luna Sanchez, RN

By Cristina DC Pastor

The beginning of the pandemic was the first time Merck pharmaceutical research executive Joyce Andes-David saw her husband exhibiting some signs of stress.

“Definitely burnout,” she said.

Her husband Arman, a registered nurse at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, was working long hours, using garbage bags for protection against the coronavirus and witnessing deaths day after day. She saw how he would go to work full of hopeful confidence and come home tired and feeling like it was all for naught.

“In his unit of 12 people, he was one of the last three standing,” said Joyce on Makilala TV’s episode ‘Married to a Frontliner.’ “Others took leaves, some decided to retire, they couldn’t handle it. I felt so bad for him.”

When the coronavirus began to spread and claim lives in early 2020, there was very little awareness of what it was and why deaths came swiftly. While governments around the world were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with alarm and growing concern, the families of medical frontliners were living in fear they might unknowingly bring it home and risk the lives of loved ones.

“Early in the pandemic, it was a concern,” said Bristol-Myers Squibb pharmaceutical sales representative Rodney Fidellaga, who is married to RN Arlin Fidellaga, an operating room nurse educator for Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

Rodney Fidellaga and wife Arlin Fidellaga, RN

“So much was not understood then. We had to take precautions like making sure she had changed clothes from work before she came home,” he said sharing his family’s experience with The FilAm.

Joyce cracked a smile when she recalled the fear in the early days of the pandemic when Arman had to “strip down in the garage” and “go straight to the shower.”

“He was not bringing any of those (clothes) inside. We were spraying down his shoes. We kept distance from each other for the first few weeks. He doubled up on his Vitamin C. That’s the only precaution we could take at the time,” she said. The family may have understandably overreacted. They have five children, the youngest being 7 at the time, they need to protect from getting sick.  

Judith Sanchez, who is married to Mt. Sinai RN Menchu Sanchez, stressed the importance of education in making people understand the need to be vaccinated and to observe masking and social distancing.

“Education and being responsible (are important),” he said on the Makilala talk show. “If you have a problem, are you just going to think about the problem or are you going to think about the solution?” queried Judith, a hotline manager and technical specialist at Diagnostica Stago medical equipment company.

Judith, Joyce and Rodney do not take pleasure in seeing people lose their jobs for whatever reason, but argued strongly that unvaccinated nurses and doctor should not continue working in a health care environment.

Said Rodney, “Yes, people should lose their jobs if they refuse (to be vaccinated) if they are in healthcare.”

Joyce Andes-David and husband Arman David, RN

He explained, “If you are in the business of caring for people professionally, you have to protect yourself as well as your patients. I understand there may be religious reasons to not want to get vaccinated. That should be very rare if ever as an excuse. The science supports that the vaccines are safe and effective. All other reasons, like political, hearsay, conspiracy etc., are unacceptable.”

It is the height of “irresponsibility” to be working in health care and not be vaccinated,” echoed Joyce. “If you’re in the health care field, you should know and believe in science. If you don’t, you are doubting the hard work of your colleagues.” She urged people to take the time to educate themselves and not resist in the belief “the government is forcing it.” 

People who work in health care should know better, said Judith. “Everybody must be responsible.”

As of February 6, 2022, according to the CDC Covid Data Tracker, 212.8 million Americans are “fully vaccinated,” meaning they have received two doses of the vaccine, and 89.8 million received a booster dose.

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© The FilAm 2022


  1. KAYSWELL wrote:

    Thanks for another great post.

  2. Aaron Evaristo wrote:

    I absolutely love your blog.

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