Three medics, two based in Florida and one in New York, have died due to coronavirus this week after working on the front lines to help patients stricken with COVID-19.
Miami intensive care unit nurse Araceli Buendia Ilagan, 63, passed away on Saturday to complications of the virus, Jackson Memorial Hospital confirmed.
Her death comes four days after the passing of Dr. Alex Hsu, 67, who had worked at Northwest Medical Center in Margate, Florida, and died due to complications of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday New York City nurse Kious Kelly, 48, passed away after his hospital Mount Sinai Hospital West suffered a shortage of medical protective equipment that forced some nurses to wear trash bags.
Their tragic deaths serve as a somber reminder of the dire risks doctors and nurses face in working with coronavirus patients as hospitals report shortages of equipment, testing kits, and health care workers.
Nationwide there are over 123,000 cases of coronavirus and over 2,000 deaths.
Medical experts warn the contagious COVID-19 will continue to spread across the country as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infection disease expert, predicts the US could see between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
Ilagan was an integral part of the Jackson Memorial hospital who mentored and trained other nurses and worked for Miami-Dade’s public hospital system since the 1980’s.
‘Our Jackson Health System family is mourning the death of longtime Jackson nurse Araceli Buendia Ilagan, who recently died from complications of COVID-19,’ the hospital said in a statement.
‘Araceli dedicated nearly 33 years of her life treating some of our most critically ill patients.’
Ilagan worked her last shift at Jackson Memorial’s ICU on Tuesday. However, it’s not clear when she became ill or how many patients and coworkers she may have had contact with, according to the Miami Herald.
She’s also the second Jackson Health nurse to test positive for the virus in March.
‘As we battle this global public health crisis, caregivers throughout the world are bravely serving on the front lines, often putting their patients’ lives before theirs. These medical professionals – people like Araceli – are the true heroes, and we salute them all,’ the hospital said in the statement.
According to records, Ilagan lived in Pembroke Pines and became licensed as a registered nurse in Florida in 1982 and then an advanced practice registered nurse in 1991.
Her brother shared a post on Facebook praising her as a ‘true hero in the fight against COVID-19’.
‘My sister Araceli Buendia Ilagan, a nurse in Miami, Florida since 1981 was a victim of this Covid-19. She was nursing those patients with the said virus in their hospital and unfortunately contracted and became unwell,’ he shared Saturday.
‘She preferred to self-isolate for days however she lost her battle and sadly passed away early this morning. My dearest sister, we admired you for your dedication on your profession. We are very, very proud of you. You’re a true “Hero” in this fight against Covid-19. We love you so much and you will be in our hearts forever,’ he shared.
A friend from Ilagan shared a tribute on Facebook writing, ‘Too close to home … and rest in paradise’.
According to the labor union that represents the 5,000 doctors and nurses at Ilagan’s employer Jackson Health, there is enough protective gear for nurses and doctors who care for patients. Those supplies are now kept under a lock and key as a precaution.
The union says the greatest challenge for doctors and nurses is the lack of testing that would allow medical workers to identify and isolate COVID-19 positive patients earlier on and with more efficiency.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Marlene Lenthang