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Living in Mason City a 'blessing': Filipino nurse honored for outstanding care at Mercy hospital (with photos, video)

MASON CITY | As a graduate in the top 1 percent of students in the Philippines, Brian Trinidad was expected to choose a career in engineering or science.

At the time, Trinidad didn’t anticipate a much different line of work would bring him more than 8,000 miles to Mason City and Mercy Medical Center—North Iowa.

Trinidad, who is from the Cagayan Valley in the northern Philippines, studied engineering for three years before an uncle suggested he could have a more financially rewarding job working as a nurse in the U.S.

Trinidad, 34, admitted he was hesitant at first, but found health care was a better fit for him.

“I think it suited me more, and as I went through the nursing course, I found l loved talking to people and loved taking care of them,” he said. “I love the profession.”

A registered nurse, Trinidad has been working in health care since 2006, primarily in the Philippines.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Brian Trinidad, a registered nurse at Mercy Medical Center--North Iowa, peeks over the shoulder of nurse Maria Levang as they review the vitals of a patient as he begins his evening shift Wednesday. 

About seven months ago, an agency placed him with Mercy in Mason City, a place Trinidad said he, his wife, Rizalina and 5-year-old son, Lucio, love.

“For our profession as a nurse in the Philippines, being in the United States would be our holy grail, because of the benefits, the system and the financial freedom,” he said. “It could not compare to any place in this world.

“I have been waiting for nine years to get here, and it is a blessing,” Trinidad said.

As someone who is used to two types of weather -- warm and warmer -- Trinidad said the target state to live in is California, because of the weather and Filipino community there.

“But getting here, we are actually considering staying here, although the weather says differently,” he said, laughing as he talked about experiencing his first winter in North Iowa.

Trinidad said he has felt the Midwestern warmth in Mason City, a place he says people have greeted and welcomed him.

“We are not used to that in the Philippines, so it has been quite a smooth transition because of the people in Mason City,” he said.

At Mercy, Trinidad works 12-hour night shifts on the cardiac floor. He said other nurses have helped his family adjust to North Iowa, including one who offered her apartment to his family.

“I was really impressed,” he said of the hospital, his co-workers, supervisors and atmosphere of teamwork. “I was expecting a lot of the hospitals here in the U.S., and seeing Mercy, and what they apply, I thought it was an ideal system.”

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Brian Trinidad, a registered nurse at Mercy Medical Center--North Iowa, has worked in healthcare since 2006, primarily in his native Philippines. He has worked for Mercy, his first job in the U.S., for seven months. 

On March 26, Trinidad was honored with the hospital’s DAISY Award, given monthly to recognize the “superhuman efforts nurses perform every day.” The award, started in Seattle by the family of a 33-year-old who died after a six-week illness, has spread worldwide to recognize caring, compassionate nurses.

Nancy Mielke, a nursing director at Mercy, read a letter from a patient praising Trinidad’s care during the award ceremony.

The patient, who said they were “apprehensive” and “scared” about being in the hospital, said Trinidad was a “bright spot” during their stay at Mercy.

“He was funny, charming and professional,” the letter read. “Brian always explained what he was doing regarding my care as well as explaining every medication he was giving me.”

One of the memories of the patient’s stay involved Funyuns. The patient asked Trinidad if they could have one – and, being from the Philippines, he replied he wasn’t sure because he had never tried the onion-flavored snack.  

“I shared one with him and he said, ‘Funyuns are delicious!’ He did have to tell me he didn’t they were probably a healthy thing for my heart, though,” the letter read.

The patient said it is rare a person can “come between me and my food and make me feel good about it.”

“I enjoyed Brian so much and wanted to let Mercy know they have a gem in him,” the letter said.

Trinidad said the award came a surprise and said it made him feel “very filled with joy.”

“It gives me a sense that I am doing something good at least,” he said. “I’m just really appreciative of the recognition given to me, but I’m really thankful to be here in the first place.

“We love Mason City, and I hope we get to stay here and live here.”

Three Mason City health care professionals make 100 Great Iowa Nurses list (with photos)

Testimony in Mason City child endangerment case: Rose, girlfriend had been arguing (with 911 audio)

MASON CITY | According to multiple people who testified at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse, Jeremy Rose and Alyss Michel had been arguing in the week leading up to when their 5-month-old daughter was hospitalized for bruises and trouble breathing.

And on Friday morning, a text from Michel to Rose revealed tension was still brewing, minutes before their daughter was rushed by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center--North Iowa on June 22, 2017.

"I'm not going to lose my girls bc (because) of you screaming," the text read. "It does no good to talk to each other Bc (because) you still scream over the little crap. I have to walk away. I have too (sic) Jeremy."

Rose, 28, has been charged with child endangerment for the alleged abuse of his then 5-month-old daughter last year.

Rose 911 call

On Friday morning, Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorneys Andrew Olson and Steven Tynan called law enforcement to detail their investigation in court.

One of them was Mason City police investigator Aaron Onder. The jury was shown a 20-minute video of Onder interviewing Rose about the events on June 22, 2017. That interview occurred about midnight to 1 a.m. June 23.

In the video, Onder asked about the bruises on the baby's lips and right cheek. 

"I assumed they were from her sister," Rose answered. One of the defense's arguments — public defenders Letitia Turner and Parker Thirnbeck are representing Rose — is that the baby's 2-year-old sister had jumped on her. That may have been a reason she had trouble breathing and needed to be sent to the hospital, they've argued.

When asked about the mark and scratch on his infant daughter's right arm, Rose said that happened when he was changing her clothes, and that a button might have caused the mark.

"Do you think a 2-year-old could leave bruises like that?" Onder asked at one point.

"I think so," Rose replied.

Much of the rest of the Mason City police investigator's testimony revolved around pictures in the house, but didn't directly talk about the alleged abuse. When Turner cross-examined Onder, he testified that Rose was cooperative, until then he appeared to be nervous.

The state's last witness was Chris Callaway, a special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. During his testimony, Rose appeared to turn pale and become sick, which prompted a five- to 10-minute break.

Callaway said he interviewed Rose in his car in Mason City roughly a week after the baby was transported to Mercy, and then airlifted to Mayo Clinic on June 22.

About two-and-a-half hours into the discussion, Callaway started to ask whether the baby's 2-year-old sister jumped on her, given what Callaway and other investigators had heard from doctors.

"There was a pause, and then he (Rose) talked about others who could have been responsible," Callaway testified.

In Turner's cross-examination, Callaway told the jury he had been searching for Rose for a couple days, before Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen located him on his bike in southwestern Mason City.

When Turner asked if he been watching Roxanne Rose — Jeremy Rose's mother — Callaway said he had not. 

The state rested its case at just before noon Friday. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.

FBI probing Trump attorney's personal business dealings

NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that their probe of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, involved suspected fraud and the attorney's personal business dealings, and was going on long enough that investigators had already covertly obtained his emails.

The details in court papers came as lawyers for Cohen and Trump sought to block the Justice Department from examining records and electronic devices, including two cell phones, seized by the FBI on Monday from Cohen's residences, office and safety deposit box.

The raids enraged Trump, who called them an "attack on the country." He sent his own lawyer to a hastily arranged hearing before a federal judge in Manhattan to argue that some of the records and communications seized were confidential attorney-client communications and off-limits to investigators.

Prosecutors blacked out sections of their legal memo in which they described what laws they believe Cohen has broken, but the document provided new clues about an investigation that the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan had previously declined to confirm existed.

"Although Cohen is an attorney, he also has several other business interests and sources of income. The searches are the result of a months-long investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen's own business dealings," said the filing, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay.

Prosecutors said they took the unusual step of raiding Cohen's residence and home, rather than requesting records by subpoena, because what they had learned so far led them to distrust he'd turn over what they had asked for.

"Absent a search warrant, these records could have been deleted without record, and without recourse," prosecutors wrote.

The document was filed publicly after lawyers for Cohen appeared before U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood to ask that they — not Justice Department lawyers — be given the first crack at reviewing the seized evidence to see whether it was relevant to the investigation or could be forwarded to criminal investigators without jeopardizing attorney-client privilege.

Trump attorney Joanna Hendon told the judge that the president has "an acute interest in these proceedings and the manner in which these materials are reviewed."

"He is the president of the United States," she said. "This is of most concern to him. I think the public is a close second. And anyone who has ever hired a lawyer a close third."

McKay told the judge that he believed the proceedings were an attempt to delay the processing of seized material.

"His attorney-client privilege is no greater than any other person who seeks legal advice," he told Wood.

Cohen's lawyer, Todd Harrison, told the judge: "We think we deserve to know some more of the facts about the underlying investigation in order to rebut their arguments. That's only fair."

Cohen wasn't present for the hearing. Wood, who didn't immediately rule, ordered him to appear in person at another court hearing Monday on the issue to help answer questions about his law practice.

In forceful language, prosecutors struck back at claims by Trump and others that the Monday raids violated the attorney-client privilege between Trump and Cohen, or amounted to an improper extension of the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

As part of the grand jury probe, they wrote, investigators had already searched multiple email accounts maintained by Cohen. Those emails, they said, indicated that Cohen was "performing little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump."

"This court should not accept Cohen's invitation to make new law and convert a duly authorized search warrant into a subpoena," prosecutors said, calling it a "dangerous precedent" to let defense lawyers delay a probe "in a case of national interest."

In a footnote, prosecutors wrote that although the investigation was referred to prosecutors by Mueller, it was proceeding independently.

People familiar with the investigation have told The Associated Press the searches carried out Monday sought bank records, records on Cohen's dealing in the taxi industry, Cohen's communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments made in 2016 to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, and a porn actress, Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels. Both women say they had affairs with Trump.

Clifford's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, spoke briefly in court. Outside court, he said: "We have every reason to believe that some of the documents seized relate to my client."

Avenatti said it's "very possible" that the porn actress would show up at Monday's hearing. He then followed with a suggestive tweet that "the weather forecast for Mon looks very Stormy."

Public corruption prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan are trying to determine, according to one person familiar with the investigation, if there was any fraud related to payments to McDougal and Clifford.

Cohen has denied wrongdoing.

McDougal was paid $150,000 in the summer of 2016 by the parent company of the National Enquirer under an agreement that gave it the exclusive rights to her story, which it never published. Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim to have had a one-night-stand with Trump.

The White House has consistently said Trump denies either affair.