Filipina nurse who died from COVID-19 honored by community

HOLLYWOOD — Wednesday marked National Nurses Day, but as the heroes without capes work in the frontlines amid the pandemic, the community honored Celia Lardizabal Marcos, a 61-year-old Filipino American nurse who died of COVID-19 last month, through a vigil.

Prayers were said, and candles were lit.

Celia, who worked at Hollywood Presbyterian in Los Angeles for 16 years, was treating COVID-19 patients armed with only a surgical mask.

She died on April 17th, two days after she tested positive for coronavirus.

While her son John attended the vigil, he declined to speak, but made sure to have some of his mother’s memories shared in a statement read by union leaders.

“Being a charge nurse was something she loved, our family in the family is really grieving. My mom was the one everyone could count on, she was the same quiet strong supportive person in our family as she was to you all at this hospital. She was always the one to offer help,” said Rosanna Mendez, Executive Director SEIU 121RN.

Kyle Kunawongse worked with Celia for 12 years.

“We were her family away from her family, and to us that was really a great loss.”

As nurses continue to be celebrated on National Nurses Week, nurses themselves and their advocates believe the best way to honor them is to protect them.

In Los Angeles County, over 1,400 health care workers including nurses have tested positive for coronavirus resulting in dozens of deaths.

“We didn’t want a symbol for the importance of proper PPE. We didn’t need one, we already know how to keep healthcare workers safe but sadly now we do have a symbol, another symbol, how important it is to have PPE — and now with the hospital says its sufficient PPE this week or next week, we need to have PPE to keep us safe on all the floors of the hospital, because there’s no such thing as a clean floor on a hospital. Celia was on a clean floor, and that didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” said Sydnie Boylan.

In a statement, the hospital said they lost a vital member of their team, and will continue to provide staff with appropriate levels of personal protective equipment, which is required with existing guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Management said they also did their part in honoring Celia through different channels.

While they mourn her death, Celia’s colleagues know that their loss only strengthens their commitment to fight for the protection of frontliners.

“It really brought it home that this disease doesn’t just infect people it also kills people and being a nurse I really thought I signed up with this type of situation. I’m here to heal people, and having a coworker die because of this disease really put a great fear in us. But we still come to work because that’s what we want to do.”

Celia’s son, John, is also finding support online through a GoFundMe campaign, which will help him bring his mother’s remains back to her homeland, the Philippines.

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  • Media coverage of our Candlelight vigil for Nurse Celia Marcos, a Union sister we lost to COVID-19.
    10 May 2020 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    […] ‘Filipina Nurse who died from COVID-19 honored by community. Balitang America/The Filipino Channel Wednesday marked National Nurses Day, but as the heroes without capes work in the frontlines amid the pandemic, the community honored Celia Lardizabal Marcos, a 61-year-old Filipino American nurse who died of COVID-19 last month, through a vigil […]

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