KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nurses at Research Medical Center who worked alongside Celia Yap-Banago, the nurse who passed away from COVID-19, say her death was preventable.
"Celia was a wonderful nurse," said Cheryl Rodarmel, the chief nurse representative at Research. "It's very hard to think we lost one of our own to something that could have been prevented if she'd had the proper PPEs."
Yap-Banago had been in quarantine at home since March 25, after she got sick with COVID-19. She passed away earlier this week.
HCA Midwest Health said they cannot confirm her cause of death at this time.
She was a 40-year veteran nurse at Research and set to retire next week.
Rodarmel and another nurse said Yap-Banago worked on the fourth floor, which was formerly used for telemetry but had been converted to the unit where patients who tested positive for COVID-19 stayed.
"There is a lot of fear and unknown up on the fourth floor," said Angela Davis, an ICU nurse at Research. She did not work on the same floor as Yap-Banago.
Davis and Rodarmel said that like many other nurses, Yap-Banago did not have an N95 mask. They said many nurses still haven't been fitted for an N95.
The nurses said the hospital took the personal protective equipment (PPE) off each floor and is holding it in one room. Nurses do not have PPE readily available on their floor should theirs break or get dirty, so they have to go down to the locked room and request supplies.
Davis said Yap-Banago came into contact with a COVID-19 positive patient, but was only caring for that patient for a couple hours before transferring them to another part of the unit.
They allege nurses are still sharing gowns and are performing nose swabs on COVID-19 patients with "level 3" masks that are not airtight like N95 masks, which puts them at greater risk of coming into contact with airborne virus particles.
"We would like to see that (the hospital) distribute PPEs out to units so nurses can have them when they need them," Rodarmel said.
HCA Midwest Health said that everyone has masks, but did not specify if everyone has an N95 mask.
"We were the first health system in the country and locally to implement universal masking for all employees/colleagues in all areas and every care site all the time on March 30," an HCA spokesperson said.
HCA, which noted that there is a worldwide shortage of PPE in a statement Thursday to 41 Action News, has previously said their hospitals have an "adequate supply of PPE."
"We have been told repeatedly by many leading organizations that our policies and protocols far exceed national standards and in some cases EXCEED CDC guidelines," an HCA spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.