On May 3, a crying Philip Ramos called 999 for an ambulance after testing positive for COVID-19 and feeling like his world was “shattered”. But the conversation the Abu Dhabi resident had with the ambulance dispatcher is what kept him going.
Ramos (name changed upon request) got tested for coronavirus at his workplace in the Capital. The result was positive.
“My world shattered when I got the results back,” the salesman said.
Ramos not only had to think of the future of his health, but he was also concerned about his finances.
“I don’t have enough money to pay for the hospital bills I thought, I was worried if the insurance company would cover it,” the Filipino said.
Nevertheless, he decided to call an ambulance on the morning of May 3. “I was told they would call me back and tell me when the vehicle would arrive. Once they called me, the ambulance arrived within minutes,” he said.
The call, however, was an emotional one.
“I felt so alone and shattered, that I started talking about my feelings to the dispatcher. I was worried if I would survive. But the dispatcher reassured me and that meant a lot to me at the time,” he said.
From the other end, Ramos was relieved to hear words of hope. “’You’re just 34 years old, you have no pre-existing illnesses, you should not be so worried,’ the person told me,” Ramos said.
Ramos has no family in the UAE and after his diagnosis he chose not to inform his immediate family back home. “I did not want to worry them so I told them after a couple of days,” he said.
Ramos was taken to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, where he said he got tested again before being moved to a hotel turned into a quarantine facility.
Upon arrival, Ramos’ worries were no longer bothering him.
“They treated me so well. I headed to my room and they asked me if I liked it. I felt like a tourist,” he said.
Ramos said that he was provided with meals and laundry every day.
“Doctors and nurses would check up on me daily. If I wanted extra food they would provide it immediately. I am so grateful to the UAE for its effort in keeping its expats healthy,” he said.
He was also relieved to learn that he did not have to pay. "I was not sure if I would get my salary this month, and if I would be able to pay but that was no longer a concern," he said.
Coronavirus refused to budge
Ramos’ road to recovery was not easy. He tested positive for the virus thrice before finally testing negative.
He said that his symptoms were also "very painful" at times.
“But, the doctors and nurses supported me during the moments I was losing hope. They would give me constant feedback and tips. I would get calls every day,” he said.
On May 13, Ramos was discharged from the facility after testing negative twice.
Currently, he is quarantined at home for 14 days.
“I just want to tell people not to lose hope. In the UAE, the government and medical professionals are very well equipped to take care of us,” he said.