Research Medical Center nurse's family files worker's comp claim related to COVID-19 death

Posted at 1:12 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 16:52:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Attorneys for the family of a Missouri nurse who died from COVID-19 have filed a claim for death benefits under the state's workers' compensation laws.

Celia Yap-Banago died April 21 after caring for a patient at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Her family and the National United Nurses Union said she contracted the virus because she didn't have adequate safety equipment to treat patients with the virus.

"Mrs. Yap-Banago contracted Coronavirus while working as a nurse and caring for a patient with Coronavirus," the family's attorneys wrote in the section about how her injury work-related occurred. "Despite her requests, she was not given proper PPE (personal protective equipment). She soon fell ill, suffered, and ultimately died of the virus."

The family's attorneys filed the claim Monday on behalf of Yap-Banago's husband and their two sons, Jhulan and Joshua.

HCA Midwest, which operates Research Medical Center, denies that nurses didn't have adequate personal protective equipment.

"We are heartbroken by the passing of Celia Yap-Banago, a 40 year veteran nurse," Research Medical Center said in a statement to 41 Action News. "It is difficult to put into words what Celia meant to our hospital and to the countless number of patients she cared for. Her impact on the nursing profession and to those whom she worked with will be everlasting due to the mentorship, training, support and guidance she provided our colleagues. We offer our deepest sympathies to her family and friends, and all who she blessed along the way. We look forward to a swift resolution, working within the State of Missouri’s workers’ compensation system."

The claim was filed the same day that Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and 20 other state attorneys general, including Derek Schmidt of Kansas, sent a letter to U.S. congressional leaders asking for federal liability protection for businesses.

The 21 attorneys general — all Republicans — cited the need to create “a stable, predictable legal environment” to head off an expected “surge in civil litigation” related to COVID-19.

So far, 23 states have passed limited liability measures that prevent civil lawsuits targeting health-care workers and first responders except in the case of willful misconduct.

The letter from the attorneys general asked for that protection to be federalized and extended to include “all businesses and non-profit organizations ... that work in good faith to comply with guidance provided by government authorities and consistent with industry best practices” as well as safety equipment manufacturers, health-care facilities and law enforcement among other groups.

41 Action News staff contributed to this report.