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Asian healthcare workers in Vegas community share frontline challenges

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 22:26:36-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada is in need of more medical professionals, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases climbs throughout the state.

Asian healthcare workers play a very important role in this fight, but the virus is also taking a great toll on them.

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Several Asian immigrant doctors who say they came to the United States for a better life find themselves seeing how the devastating virus is not only affecting their patients but also their colleagues.

For doctors like Zia Khan, the pandemic is personal. He’s seen fellow doctors and nurses on his staff fall ill to the virus.

As the numbers rise, each case takes a professional and emotional toll.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking but we are doing a very good job at most of the hospitals here coping with the situation,“ said Dr. Khan.

Immigrant healthcare workers play a huge role in operations for Southern Nevada hospitals, according to Reuben D’Silva, president of the South Asian Young-Professionals Alliance.

"We are estimating 1 of 6 doctors is of Asian descent here in Southern Nevada," said D’Silva.

"And when it comes to nurses, we're seeing a similar dynamic with what we see in California with significantly one group of people, Filipinos," he added.

"[They] make up a large segment of the nursing population. Our estimate for that is also 1 out of 6.“

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According to Dr. Khan, "4% of nurses in America are Filipino nurses, but 30% of the deaths of nurses have been Filipinos."

"A lot of these nurses are ICU and upper-level nurses, and most of these COVID-19 patients end up in the ICU," Dr. Khan added.

Even though a vaccine rollout has begun, officials say it will be a long road for the recovery of our health system.

In the meantime, many frontline healthcare workers continue to ask people to follow COVID-19 guidelines.