On National Nurses Day, a Filipina nurse who died on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic was memorialized with a candlelight vigil in front of CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had worked for 16 years.
Some 200 individuals — including colleagues, community leaders, family and friends — came together on Wednesday night, May 6 to honor Celia Lardizabal Marcos, a 61-year-old telemetry charge nurse at the hospital who died on April 17 from complications related to COVID-19.
Fr. Rolando B. Clarin of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church offered a prayer, while the nurse’s son John Marcos came from the Bay Area to pay respects to his mother.
“Our family in the Philippines is really grieving,” said John in a written statement read by a union representative. “My mom was the one everyone could count on. She was the same quiet, strong, supportive person in our extended family that she was to you here at the hospital. She was always the one to offer to help.”
Marcos was the first fatality for the SEIU Local 121RN, which represents 9,000 registered nurse members in Southern California. The union organized Wednesday’s vigil to honor Marcos’s service as a nurse and to also highlight the need for adequate protective protection equipment.
“If you don’t have the proper protection on all of the floors, it’s like having no protection,” said Sydnie Boylan, vice president of the union.
On April 3, the Pinay nurse was only provided a surgical mask to respond to a patient, suspected to have COVID-19, who went into cardiac arrest, as previously reported by the Asian Journal. Though she worked on a floor that was considered free of positive cases, the particular patient was an “overflow,” according to the union.
Three days later, Marcos began developing symptoms, which included a headache, body aches and difficulty breathing. She was admitted to the same hospital two days prior to her death and was hooked up to a ventilator to help her breathe after she developed pneumonia, a complication associated with COVID-19.
CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in a statement emailed to the Asian Journal said it honored Marcos in a ceremony on Monday.
“It is impossible for mere words to express the deep sadness we feel, to adequately underscore Celia’s courage and contribution,” the hospital said, adding “Celia was truly a healthcare hero, and she fervently dedicated herself to devoted service for human welfare and to the high ideals of the nursing profession. She will be sorely missed.”
Amid calls for more PPE for its health care workers, the hospital said it is “doing our best to overcome” the challenges associated with the pandemic and is following equipment supplies under LA County Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
“Despite these efforts, and our commitment to following all guidelines, we still lost one of our own to this terrible virus, and we feel this loss very deeply,” it added.
The nurses union this week also organized another vigil at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks for Marcos and to call for more PPE.
Marcos, who would have celebrated her 62nd birthday in less than two weeks, has been cremated and will be buried at a later date alongside her parents in their hometown of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur in the Philippines.
(With reports from Christina M. Oriel / AJPress and Steve Angeles / Balitang America, ABS-CBN News)