WASHINGTON — With Nurses Appreciation Week coming to a close, I thought I would take a few moments Tuesday morning to tell you about a nurse named Celia Marcos.
While working her shift on April 3, a patient in the ward she oversaw at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center stopped breathing. Celia immediately rushed to his room to begin chest compressions, trying to resuscitate him.
She did this knowing that he was a COVID-19 patient, and she only had a surgical mask for her protection. She knew she was placing herself at risk, but isn't that what nurses do -- put themselves at risk during every shift they work?
Fourteen days later, she passed away, dying in the same hospital where she'd worked for over 16 years. She was 61 years old. She leaves behind two children, a grandchild, and a staff who called her death preventable, saying that she contracted the virus because they aren’t equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment due to hospital shortages.
For their part, hospital officials don’t agree, saying that their nurses are provided with everything they need to keep them safe. This didn't stop the nurse's union from filing a compliant with the State Safety and Health Administration, agreeing with the staff.
We have spent the last week telling nurses how important they are to us; how grateful we are for their front-line service. And yet, due to national shortages, we send them to those lines lacking the equipment they need to adequately protect themselves.
Celia passed away surrounded by her colleagues. But her family couldn’t be there with her to hold her hand at the end. We owe our nurses, and all our healthcare professional, more than appreciative gestures.
Some of the wishful thinking that we've seen -- a belief that this virus is just going to go away -- that's not going to protect these women and men.
It's time that we demand our government make sure they have everything they need. The best way we can thank nurses, and the rest of our health care providers, is by doing the best we can to make sure that not one more of them suffer the way Celia Marcos did.