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Family, coworkers hold vigil for nurse who died from COVID-19

Posted at 10:26 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 23:42:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Celia Yap-Banago took care of COVID-19 patients at Research Medical Center before she got sick.

Her family recently announced that, despite being quarantined for almost a month, she lost her battle against the disease this week.

Now, the union that represented Yap-Banago is concerned the hospital did not enough to protect her.

"We are truly devastated for her loss and I just wish things would have went a lot differently," Charlene Carter, one of Celia's coworkers, said.

A candlelight vigil was held Thursday evening outside Research Medical Center in honor of Yap-Banago.

"She was just a staple on our unit, and we’d love to see her and we hoped that she would be coming back but she didn’t make it," Carter said.

Loved ones and nurses came together to honor the wife and mother of two who was set to retire next week after 40 years of service.

"You’re either really not smart to be in this field for 40 years or you are so compassionate and selfless that you dedicate your entire life to helping others," Jhulan Banago, Yap-Banago's son, said during the vigil.

Along with the grieving, National Nurses United and coworkers have noted that Yap-Banago was one of the nurses who raised concerns over personal protective equipment at the hospital.

"Celia didn’t have to die if she had the proper PPE, so from now on we nurses should be fighting for the proper PPE so none of us will also die," another of Yap-Banago's coworkers, Leo Fuller said.

The hospital refutes that claim. A spokesperson for HCA Midwest Health, which operates Research Medical Center, said in a statement:

"We are deeply disappointed that while we continue to mourn our dear colleague and friend, Celia, the union is seeking to exploit celia’s death as an opportunity to criticize the hospital for a global PPE shortage. Not only is this simply not the case, but the challenges the pandemic has created for hospitals are well understood."

During the vigil, Yap-Banago's coworkers recognized the other nurses around the country who've lost their lives due to COVID-19.

"As a nurse, I know she was a hero to others, and the stories and the outpouring of love, I know for a fact that she is a hero, not just to us," Jhulan said. "If you guys want to call her your hero, I am totally OK with that."