NEW YORK – At a virtual memorial service held on April 28, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) honored its members who had succumbed to COVID-19. Of the 23 listed in its Memorial Page, eight were Filipino Americans.
“And while nothing can replace the lives of those we’ve lost,” wrote Pat Kane, NYSNA executive director, “the NYSNA’s Board of Directors has established a Fund for Fallen Nurses to assist the families of our colleagues taken by COVID-19.”
She urged members to continue their fight for stronger health and safety protections. “COVID-19 has demonstrated just how essential these protections are for every nurse and every healthcare worker in New York,” Kane said. “We must never allow this to happen again.”
COVID-19 has claimed over 67,000 lives in the US and over 1-million have been infected.
The New York State Nurses Association is the largest union and professional association for registered nurses with 42,000 members, according to its Website.
The list of fallen nurses below is courtesy of NYSNA:
ROMEO AGTARAP, RN
He passed away from COVID-19 on April 24, 2020. A 63-year-old Registered Nurse and active NYSNA member, Romeo worked in the Emergency Department of New York Presbyterian for 20 years before retiring last year. He had since returned to work on a per diem. His colleagues remember his wit and the way Romeo loved to make them laugh.
NICANOR BALTAZAR, RN
Nick as he is called, was a registered nurse from Long Island Care Center in Flushing, NY, who passed away from COVID-19 on March 31, 2020. He dedicated 40 years of his life to nursing, 30 of those here in America. He worked in Long Island Care Center for 15 years, and this year would have been his 5th year as the Director of Nursing. He leaves behind his wife Grace Baltazar, also an RN, and his daughter Abigail Baltazar, who just graduated with her BSN. He will be terribly missed by his family and all of those who have worked with him.
SUSAN SISGUNDO, RN
She was a Neonatal ICU nurse and NYSNA member at Bellevue Hospital. She passed away on Wednesday, April 8, from COVID-19 as she was being treated at the Queens Hospital. Prior to joining the New York City Health + Hospitals system, she worked at the Flushing Hospital. Susan was an active NYSNA member and participated in NYSNA events like our annual lobby day. Susan’s colleagues are organizing to help reunite her with her family in the Philippines.
ESTELITA ATIENZA SOLOMON, RN
A 72 year-old retired head nurse from Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, she passed away from COVID-19 on April 10, 2020. Solomon worked at Wyckoff for more than 35 years. Solomon is survived by her daughter Catherine Solomon, an active NYSNA member at Mt. Sinai Hospital who is currently recovering from COVID-19 herself. Tragically, Catherine and her sister also lost their father, Antonio Solomon, to the virus two weeks prior to losing their mother Estelita.
ERNESTO “AUDIE” DELEON
Audie was an ADN at Bellevue Hospital where he worked for over 30 years. On April 13, 2020, DeLeon lost his 13 day battle with COVID-19.
Audie’s colleague, Claire Martinez, shared these memories: “During his tenure, he was an incredible inspiration and a mentor to hundreds of nurses, doctors and other clinical staff. He was an immensely kind soul with a humble demeanor. He will always be dearly loved by his friends who have become family, his coworkers, and relatives.”
Ernesto’s colleagues at Bellevue Hospital held a service in his honor, and posted a portion of the remembrance on YouTube.
MARLINO CAGAS, RN
A Registered Nurse at Harlem Hospital and an active NYSNA member, he passed away on April 20, 2020. Cagas worked as a pharmacy tech at Harlem Hospital for many years before embarking on a nursing career at age 60. He started at the bedside in 2018, and will be sorely missed by his colleagues. He is survived by two sisters here in New York and several other siblings in the Philippines.
MARIA GUIA CABILLON
“Mama” Guia, as she was called by her colleagues, worked as the Head Nurse of Kings County Hospital Center’s Emergency Department. She was an active NYSNA member and served in the hospital for more than 30 years. She also worked at New York Community Hospital in Brooklyn. She passed away on April 26, 2020 due to COVID-19 and is survived by her husband, 4 daughters, 2 grandkids, sisters, nieces, and nephews.