Filipina nurse Minnie Klepacz has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her “tireless work to support her colleagues and community” during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Klepacz, a matron for ophthalmology, leads the hospital’s Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
“What an incredibly proud day for Team UHD (University Hospitals Dorset) – our brilliant matron Minnie has been recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List and awarded a British Empire Medal. Minnie was honored for her tireless work to support her colleagues and community during COVID-19, and said she feels ‘truly humbled’ to be recognized,” the UHD National Health Service Foundation Trust announced Saturday.
In its report, UHD shared that Klepacz also provided support to the Filipino community outside work, cooked meals for colleagues who were recovering after being in intensive care, and organized virtual community events to offer comfort and reassurance.
Minnie said never in her wildest dream did she think of getting an award and that she felt “privileged and honored” to be recognized.
“When I saw an email from the Cabinet Office, I was so worried and thought I’d done something wrong. I plucked up the courage to read it again and responded asking if it was a spam email because I just couldn’t believe it. They told me it was true and then rang me to reassure me, I couldn’t believe it,” she was quoted as saying by the UHD.
Klepacz has worked for the hospital for 19 years having arrived to work in the United Kingdom from the Philippines as a teenager.
“This award is not just for me; it’s for everyone who works here and goes above and beyond. As a Filipino, I’d also like to share this award with all staff from a BAME background. I’m truly humbled to work with amazing colleagues. They inspire me and give me confidence,” she said.
Minnie, who lost 11 friends to COVID-19, added: “COVID was really challenging, and most hospital staff affected by it came from a BAME background. I had my own worries, but I had to put that aside and think, how can I support people, what act of kindness and humanity can I provide. If people need help, then I’ll help them.
“I’m going to send my medal home to the Philippines. Growing up, my mom 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.” (PNA)