Filipino Nurses, Healers in Trouble
By JOSEPH BERGER, New York Times
Published: January 27, 2008
THEY are recruited in their homeland with perks like free airfare. Some have been offered thousands of dollars in bonuses to relocate. And in the process, they have become a mainstay of the New York area’s hospitals and nursing homes.
They are nurses from the Philippines, and they are highly prized here because they speak English, are trained in American-caliber medicine and enjoy a reputation for tender care — the legacy of a society in which families tend to their own sick and aging relatives.
“We’re honest, industrious and don’t complain a lot," explained Elmer Jacinto, 32, a registered nurse.
His voice, however, carried a palpable note of sarcasm. He and nine other Filipino nurses on Long Island did complain, and now they find themselves caught in what he called “a nightmare" — a disturbing new chapter in the upbeat story of one of this nation’s most successful immigrations.
The 10 nurses are under indictment in Suffolk County on charges of endangering the welfare of five chronically ill children and one terminally ill man. They are accused of walking off their jobs at the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Smithtown in April 2006 without providing sufficient notice for the nursing home to replace them on coming shifts.