“Lost on the Frontline,” aims to document the lives of U.S. health workers who die of Covid -19, and to understand why so many are falling victim to the pandemic. The project is a collaboration between KHN and The Guardian, has identified 782 such workers who likely died of Covid -19 after helping patients during the pandemic.
Anjanette Miller: Died living her dream
Occupation: Registered nurse
Place of Work: Community First Medical Center and Kindred Chicago Lakeshore in Chicago, and Bridgeway Senior Living in Bensenville, Illinois
Date of Death: April 14, 2020
As a child, Anjanette Miller dreamed of becoming a nurse in the U.S. She studied in her native Philippines and worked briefly in Saudi Arabia before fulfilling her wish in 2001.
Miller settled in Chicago and worked as a supervising nurse at three facilities. Her sister, Venus Donasco-Delfin, said Miller got along well with co-workers who shared her work ethic.
“At work, I think, she was strict, but beyond work, she’s a great friend,” Donasco-Delfin said. One of five siblings, she was the “pillar of the family” and supported relatives back home.
“I studied psychology for two years,” Donasco-Delfin said, “but she kept calling me [in the Philippines] and said, ‘No, Venus. … You have to pursue nursing. You will make a difference.’” Donasco-Delfin, now in Canada, became a nurse.
Miller started feeling sick in mid-March and was diagnosed with Covid -19 in early April. She self-isolated, chronicling her illness on YouTube and Facebook. She was hospitalized April 5 and died nine days later.
Miller had hoped to retire to the Philippines and pursue her other passion, filmmaking. Last year she traveled back home to shoot scenes for a project. “The movie she was making is about her life story,” Donasco-Delfin said. “But it’s not finished yet.”— Danielle Renwick, The Guardian | May 12, 2020
Edwin Montanano: Loved Broadway shows
Occupation: Registered nurse
Place of Work: Wellpath at Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, New Jersey
Date of Death: April 5, 2020
Edwin Montanano went to the U.S. Open every year. He loved Broadway shows, especially “Miss Saigon,” but also “Les Misérables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats.” He liked candy — Symphony bars and M&M’s. And he and his wife, Annabella, relished hosting guests.
“My parents always had an open-door policy, and [growing up] it was always a very busy house,” said Michelle Helminski, his daughter. “When relatives or friends would come to visit, my dad would take them to New York — he was an expert tour guide.”
In more recent years, his four young grandchildren became a focal point in his life.
Montanano, who studied nursing in his native Philippines, worked at St. Michael’s Medical Center in New Jersey for 30 years alongside Annabella; Michelle and her brother, Matthew, were born at the hospital. After retiring, Edwin returned to work as a nurse at a nearby prison.
Helminski said she does not know whether her father contracted the virus at work, but as of May, at least three other workers at the prison had died of Covid -19. A representative from Wellpath, Montanano’s employer, wrote that, “Our clinical personnel have ongoing access to masks, gowns, and other PPE, as well as the training to use it effectively.”
Montanano developed Covid -19 symptoms in late March and died at St. Michael’s. — Danielle Renwick, The Guardian | June 19, 2020
Jesus Villaluz: Made patients feel at ease
Occupation: Patient transport worker
Place of Work: Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey
Date of Death: April 3, 2020
After Jesus Villaluz died from Covid -19 complications, colleagues lined the hallway at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, to say goodbye. They’d never done that for anyone else.
“Jesus knew many and meant a lot to all of us, so this gesture felt like the right thing to do,” said hospital spokesperson Nicole Urena.
The hospital, and surrounding Bergen County, have been hit hard by the pandemic. By May 8, Holy Name had treated more than 6,000 Covid patients, 181 of whom died.
Villaluz worked at Holy Name for 27 years. In a Facebook post, the hospital memorialized Villaluz’s generosity: He once won a raffle and shared the winnings with colleagues, an anecdote New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy repeated at a news conference. Family members declined requests for an interview.
Co-worker Hossien Dahdouli said Villaluz’s compassion for patients was exemplary. He never rushed anyone, took the time to chat with patients and was always concerned for their privacy and safety, Dahdouli said.
Years ago, after Dahdouli had a sad day caring for deteriorating ICU patients, he asked Villaluz why he always appeared so happy.
“He said, ‘My worst day at work is better than someone’s best day as a patient.’” — Anna Almendrala, Kaiser Health News | May 12, 2020
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