As a nursing major, Rosemarie Maltezo was excited for her junior year. It’s when she was going to get to work hands-on in a clinical setting and put into practice some of what she had learned about patient care in the last two years in the classroom and simulation lab.
Maltezo was assigned to the 9th floor of the Diamond Head Tower at Queen’s Medical Center, and spent her time shadowing and assisting the unit’s nurses. But a week after her clinical coursework ended, COVID-19 hit and she received a message from her professor saying that the whole 9th floor had been turned into a COVID unit.
That hit home. The nurses Maltezo had been working alongside were now on the front lines of combating a still very mysterious and unpredictable global disease outbreak.
Maltezo wanted to help. She was the president and founder of the Chaminade Health Occupational Schools for America (HOSA) Future Health Professionals Club, and they were slated to do a community service project with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America in April. When that event was canceled, Maltezo saw it as an opportunity to get down to the core of who they were and what they believed in.
HOSA Club members are all aspiring healthcare employees, and throughout their time in clinicals they had come to realize just how much of a sacrifice nurses make every day. The global pandemic brought that sacrifice to a whole new level.
“Going through clinicals, we noticed that nurses do so much for us that sometimes they forget to take care of themselves,” says Maltezo. “Their number one priority is being an advocate for their patients, but sometimes they neglect their own health to keep us alive and running.”
With funding and supplies donated by Chaminade’s School of Nursing and Health Professions and two of their club advisers and professors, Denise Cooper and Dr. Edna Magpantay-Monroe, the HOSA club members put together 128 care packages to donate to nurses on the front lines at Queen’s Medical Center Punchbowl and Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu.
Each care package included a stress ball shaped like a pill with the label “chill pill”, face masks, deodorant and some power snacks. The packages also included mouthwash and gum, because as Maltezo realized during her clinical rotations, “they’re in their masks all day and honestly it’s so hard to be in a mask and smell your own breath all day.”
Maltezo founded the HOSA club in the spring of 2018. The Chaminade club is part of the international HOSA organization which empowers future healthcare leaders. Member clubs participate in community service, leadership opportunities, networking events and competitions.
The students and their advisors chose to deliver the packages at the end of May, once COVID-19 was starting to slow down so that they wouldn’t be a bother at the hospital and interrupt the busy workflow of the nurses. They dropped off packages at Queen’s Punchbowl on May 15 and Queen’s West on May 26, and were met by Chaminade alums Edlene Vanessa Coloma, Kate Chamberlain and Brandy dela Cruz who came out to receive them.
Maltezo had participated in a HOSA club at her high school, and knew she wanted to bring the club to Chaminade. So her freshman year, she recruited a few upperclassmen to help her create a Chaminade chapter, and by summer 2018 they had already won second place in their first international competition in Dallas, Texas. They repeated that accomplishment again in summer 2019, winning second place in the international competition in Orlando, Florida.
Maltezo is stepping down as president this coming year to focus on finishing her fourth year as a nursing student. The club has selected sophomore Kelvin Manganaan to take over as president, and Maltezo will serve as his vice president to help get him settled into the new role.
“This coming year we want to participate in the Hawaii State Leadership Conference again, and hopefully send at least 10 people to the international competition,” says Maltezo. “We also want to be more involved in the community.”