In the October 18, 2020 episode of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Survivors Speak Series, kidney transplant recipient Dennis Lucas, 42, shared that a positive attitude, as well as community support, were crucial to helping him and his family recover from the COVID-19 virus. Throughout their quarantine, Lucas, whose medical condition made him even more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus, kept in constant touch with the local government (LGU), their community health center, and his transplant doctor.

During the virtual presser, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire emphasized that the LGU’s barangay health emergency response teams (BHERTs) are the first responders in case the member of a household shows symptoms of COVID-19. As the Lucas family experienced, the BHERTS can also be the lifeline of the isolated individuals to the outside world, bringing them essential items like food and medicine.

When Lucas and his family learned that they were all COVID-19-positive, their barangay responded immediately to assist them in obtaining their essential needs. The family quickly followed standard protocol to isolate themselves, even from each other.

Meanwhile, well aware of his elevated levels of risk, Lucas kept in constant communication with his transplant doctor as well as the health center’s doctor. Both of them helped him manage his medicine intake and advised him which medicines he must take and avoid. The two doctors’ close cooperation ensured that the medicines he was taking to treat COVID-19 were not contraindicated with his maintenance medicines for his kidney health.

Lucas also added that more than contracting the virus, it was anxiety and fear that made the situation even more challenging. What helped him and his family rise above this cloud of worry was the support they received from relatives and friends who regularly reached out to them.

Ang ginawa ko po for the whole quarantine time was hindi ko inisip na may sakit ako. I stayed positive.” Lucas shared. “Ang iniisip ko lagi, makaka-recover ako, just stay sa sinabi na guidelines na dapat ko gawin.”

What helped him put on a “positive mindset” was the knowledge that others were doing their best to help him. He said, “Iniisip ko na ginagawa naman ng loved ones natin at ng government lahat para matulungan tayo pero we have to help ourselves also.”

Health Undersecretary Singh-Vergeire also reiterated that a positive perspective does help in the recovery process against the COVID-19 virus, while a negative attitude can aggravate it. She said, “Kapag ikaw ay may sakit, tapos feeling mo talaga may sakit ka, parang lalo kang mahina. Kapag di mo nilalabanan, lalo kang di makatayo ng kama, lalong parang feeling mo ay helpless ka.”

Lucas also reminded the viewers that practicing the minimum health standards is critical to shielding them from COVID-19 infection.

He gave his first advice, saying, “Sa public na gusto lumabas para hindi naman essential, huwag na po. Now regarding sa essentials, pwede naman natin i-schedule yun like the food, we can do it in once a week or twice a week para hindi naman kailangan everyday lumabas. Pero the best way is always to protect yourself by wearing the mask and face shield kasi yun naman talaga ang kailangan gawin. Then social distancing talaga.”

Lucas said that we are the best person to protect ourselves. “Always think twice, thrice or a hundred times kung gusto niyo lumabas. Huwag na po tayo lalabas, kung hindi naman essential,” he stressed.

Usec Singh-Vergeire also encouraged the public to do handwashing and changing of footwear used outside before entering the house. She also recommended isolation upon experiencing COVID-like symptoms, and reminded the public to not hesitate in seeking help from their BHERTs if there are positive patients in their household.

Lagi po natin tatandaan na nandiyan palagi ang ating mga health experts na maari nating makausap through telemedicine or through BHERTs upang makakuha tayo ng tamang impormasyon na makakatulong kung sakali pong tayo ay mag-positibo o nakakaranas na tayo  ng sintomas ng COVID-19,” she emphasized. “Kritikal po na tayo ay dapat makakuha ng tamang detalye ukol sa sakit na COVID-19 kung paano gumagaling dito at paano tayo mananatiling protektado.”