Lost on the U.S. pandemic front line
California Healthline / INQUIRER.net US Bureau
September 4, 2020 at 9:47 am

“Lost on the Frontline,” a collaboration between KHN and The Guardian, has identified 922 such workers, at least 53 Filipino Americans among them, who died of Covid-19 likely after helping patients during the pandemic.

In some states, medical personnel account for as many as 20% of known coronavirus cases. They tend to patients in hospitals, treating them, serving them food and cleaning their rooms. Others at risk work in nursing homes or are employed as home health aides. Here are 2 more Filipino American health care workerers whose lives were claimed by the coronavirus.

Friends say neonatal nurse was a baby whisperer

Susan Sisgundo

Age: 50
Occupation: Neonatal ICU nurse
Place of Work: Bellevue Hospital in New York City
Date of Death: April 8, 2020

With eight siblings, Susan Sisgundo had to fight to stand out, whether it was academics or a new dance move, friend Lowelia Avellana said.

The two met in grade school in the Philippines. Avellana moved to New York City; her friend followed. They studied nursing and lived in Queens, 10 minutes from each other.

Sisgundo worked in one of the country’s busiest hospitals, which was beset by COVID-19 patients. A hospital spokesperson said its employees had appropriate personal protective equipment.

In the NICU, Sisgundo was a baby whisperer, adept at coaxing the fussiest newborn to sleep.

“She wanted to have babies,” Avellana said, “but she wasn’t lucky to find a good guy.”

In March, Sisgundo started feeling sick. Struggling to breathe, she was taken to Queens Hospital, where Avellana works. The hospital was overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, and Avellana couldn’t reach Sisgundo before she was intubated. “It was crazy, crazy,” Avellana recalled, her voice trailing off.

She visited Sisgundo every day until her death.

The friends were supposed to travel to the Philippines to celebrate their birthdays. Now, Avellana is going to transport her best friend home. — Kathleen Horan | July 14, 2020

Young nurse lived a life of ‘no regrets’

Krist Angielen Castro Guzman

Age: 35
Occupation: Licensed practical nurse
Place of Work: Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook, Illinois
Date of Death: May 2, 2020

Krist Guzman packed a lot into her short life. She worked full time while studying to become a registered nurse. She had three children, one a newborn.

Smart, funny and outgoing, she nurtured relationships.

“Hers was a life of no regrets,” said a cousin, Jeschelyn Pilar.

In a Navy family that moved often, she was close with her brother, Anjo Castro.

“She was my role model,” said Castro, who also pursued a medical career as an independent duty corpsman in the Navy.

The pandemic hit home when their uncle, pediatric surgeon Dr. Leandro Resurreccion III, died March 31.

Guzman told family she had seen COVID patients. Worried she didn’t have adequate protective gear, she scrambled to find some online.

Meadowbrook has registered the worst COVID outbreak in Illinois, with more than three dozen deaths. Nursing home spokesperson Marissa Kaplan said in a statement: “Meadowbrook puts the safety and welfare of its residents and staff at the forefront of everything we do.” She did not address whether there was sufficient protective gear. — Mary Chris Jaklevic | June 2, 2020

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