A Filipina nurse based in Los Angeles, California has died after rushing in to save a coronavirus-positive patient without an N95 mask.
Celia Marcos, who worked at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, wore only a thin surgical mask as she performed chest compressions on the patient who stopped breathing on the evening of April 3.
According to a report in Los Angeles Times, Celia died fourteen days later, in the same hospital she worked at for over 16 years.
As a charge nurse, Celia was "required to respond to patients who stopped breathing," but her coworkers said she wasn't provided an N95 mask at the beginning of her shift.
Just like the rest of the United States and many other countries around the world, L.A. continues to suffer from a shortage of personal protective equipment amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The hospital, however, denied that they were under-equipped, and said that nurses responding to "code blues" are provided with N95 masks.
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The said patient had been confined in the ward that Celia overlooked. Two hours after insisting that he didn't feel sick, he stopped breathing.
Celia resuscitated him and stayed in his room treating him for at least 30 minutes. The patient was eventually placed on a ventilator before being moved to the ICU.
On her part, Celia grew concerned after leaving the patient's room. According to the report, she later texted her niece, "I was the one right in front of his face." She added that she put hand sanitizer on her hair right after, and showered as soon as she got home.
But three days later, she began feeling sick. On April 11, she told her oldest son Donald Jay Marcos, that she had a headache and was having difficulty breathing.
On April 15, she told him via video call that she had developed pneumonia. And on April 17, her heart stopped repeatedly, requiring her colleagues to resuscitate her multiple times.
But it was all in vain as she eventually succumbed to the virus.
Her colleagues said one of the last things she said was, "I don't want to die."
In a statement to the Times, nurses union SEIU 121RN President Nina Wells said, "Celia was called to a COVID-19 isolation room while wearing only a surgical mask — not the required N95 respirator, gown, face shield, and booties that her hospital should have given her for her protection."
"Now we know she gave her life to try to save a life," she added.
Celia's death prompted SEIU 121RN to file a complaint with the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration, citing that it was a "result of inadequate PPE provided to staff," the report said.
"It’s just too painful for everybody, what happened to her," one nurse was quoted as saying.
After her death, hospital staff held a candlelight vigil for their fallen colleague and beloved friend.
Celia had trained to be a nurse in the Philippines before immigrating to America. She eventually found work in Hollywood Presbyterian in 2004.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Celia and her two sons had actually planned a trip to the Philippines. According to her sons, she spent most of her savings visiting her family back home.
—JCB, GMA News