Teammates Help Filipino Nurses Prepare for Their First Winter

Feb 14 2023

Ohio winters can be brutal. And if you’re from the tropical Philippines, you might be in for a surprise.

Fortunately, Victor Binas (picture above, right) and Irish Babael (pictured above, left) have supportive team members that helped prepare them for the cold, ice and snow. Both nurses have started a three-year commitment to work at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center far from their homeland.

Sara Guisinger, also a nurse, has gotten to know Victor and Irish over the past few months in Unit 3B, an 18-bed coronary care stepdown unit. She recalled Victor’s anxious questions about anticipated snow, low temperatures and what he might need. Irish expressed her own concerns about adjusting from warm weather she’s used to.

This chat gave Sara an idea.

“It would be really nice to all come together as a unit and get a couple of items to start them off for their first winter and help them feel welcome,” she explains. “When Victor and Irish both came to the United States, they didn’t bring much with them. And I thought even just a small ‘winter basket’ would help.”

From there, Sara rallied coworkers to the cause. Victor also remembers asking about the approaching winter.

“At first, they said ‘You should buy this. You should buy that,’” he recalls. “Come December, I was really shocked they gave me this Christmas basket full of winter stuff. Irish and I were so happy that time. This was actually a great, great idea, especially for us who came from a tropical country.”

Irish echoes her appreciation.

“I am very blessed and grateful. I didn’t expect the support they gave us. The transition going here and to start from scratch is really difficult, but having a great and supporting team made it much bearable. They are the best!”

Stacy Braun – Victor, Irish and Sara’s manager – is one of several Unit 3B associates who contributed to the new nurses’ gifts.

“I was impressed by the thought and gesture, as Victor has been with us a couple months longer than Irish,” she says. “But the team wanted to do the same thing for both of them, which speaks volumes!”

Stacy also notes the baskets were customized for each.

“It shows that they know Victor and Irish as well as their preferences and needs.”

Victor and Irish add they’ve used everything they received. Victor especially loves the electric blanket.

“With this electric blanket, cold weather will not be a problem for us anymore,” he says.

Irish also appreciates the gloves, socks, ice scraper and shovel.

“Those items are really helpful to me, more especially during this past winter storm,” she shares.

Having international nurses on her team is new to Stacy. So far, the experience has been great.

“Both Victor and Irish have quickly joined our team and bonded with us,” she explains. “They are both so kind and appreciative. They are willing to learn and work hard.”

Sara adds, “It’s been a pleasure getting to know them and teaching them the way of nursing here in the United States.”

Victor and Irish continue to adapt – to the weather, and to St. Rita’s.

“The greatest challenge, I would probably say, is learning the culture, because it is really diverse and very different to my country’s,” Victor says. “However, with the guidance of my manager, Stacy, and the help of my coworkers, I think everything will be perfectly fine.”

“I like St. Rita’s in general. I like how hospitable the people are here,” Irish adds. “I am deeply thankful to my manager, Stacy Braun, my preceptors, Lora Donaldson and Sara Guisinger, and the entire 3B family. They welcomed me in the unit and assisted me at all times. I’m grateful to have the best workmates.”

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