Taken Too Soon: Memorializing the Nurses Lost to Covid-19

What has been the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic? For many, it’s meant a loss of a routine, the loss of a livelihood, the loss of a world where we could gather in community without fear of hurting the ones we love. But for far too many of us, it’s meant the loss of the most important people in our lives.

People have many reasons for choosing to become a nurse. It’s a stable job, your work has significant meaning, and the accompanying salary will almost always earn you a place in the middle class. But to the vast majority of us who become nurses, what supersedes all is the desire to heal injury and ease suffering. The challenges our profession has faced in the wake of the pandemic have been staggering, and will leave a lasting and negative impact in terms of staff burnout, vaccine skepticism and the anticipated drop in nursing school enrollment that will disproportionately affect nurse educators. But most significant are the nurses who gave their lives in the fight against this deadly disease.

In the wake of these deaths there were many who insisted that we “knew what we signed up for” or that death by a deadly pandemic was “part of our job.” We must not ignore this callous disregard for human wellbeing — nurses stepped up to a fight we were not prepared for, one we were not protected from. Our hospitals have been overrun because people failed to heed social distancing and masking requirements, ICUs like the one I work in are reaching or have reached capacity. The resulting overtime for nurses, volunteered or in some cases mandated, lead to even greater exposure to the virus. Additionally, we did not have the PPE we needed to stay safe, to the point where nurses in New York were wearing trash bags. At any point the President of the United States could have invoked the Defense Production Act to secure the PPE that was necessary to protect nurses, but he never did.

I did not become a nurse so that I could die in an unexpected pandemic, made worse by the outgoing administration’s incompetence and public disregard for the wellbeing of others. It is important that we acknowledge nurses have given their lives, but that each was given unwillingly and unexpectedly. 

Today at 5:30p ET, we will join together in remembering the many who’ve died on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic. By lighting a candle, ringing a bell, or turning on your lights, we give a physical reminder of all we’ve lost. From nurses to housekeepers, physicians to food service workers, all have been and still are essential to getting us to the end of this dark and unfortunate chapter in world history. 

Below are the names of the many nurses lost to the pandemic. This list is not exhaustive, and tragically it will only expand as more die. But in this great suffering, may we join together in solidarity: to stay home, to wear a mask, to get the vaccine when it becomes available. It’s healthcare workers who are on the front lines, but this is everyone’s fight. Together, we will end the pandemic.

Marybeth Papetti, NJ

Kious Kelly, NJ

Theresa Lococo, NY

Araceli Buendia Ilagan, FL

Noel Sinkiat, DC

Mark Bryson DeLong, GA

Barbara Finch, VA

Rosary Celaya Castro, CA

Hazel Mijares, NY

Debbie Accard, MI

James House, MI

Jeff Baumbach, CA

Nicanor Baltazar, NY

Lisa Ewald, MI

John Abruzzo, NY

Dorothy Boles, MS

Patrick Cain, MI

Elizabeth Bartolome Del Mundo, NJ

Marilyn Howard, NY

Angeline Bernadel, CT

Susan Cicala, NJ

Daisy Doronila, NJ

Edwin Montanano, NJ

Aleyamma John, NY

Rose Harrison, AL

Dolores Woodford, MA

Ali Dennis Guillermo, NY

Vianna Thompson, NV

Susan Sisgundo, NY

Francisca Amponsah, NJ

Felicisimo Luna, NJ

Quen Agbor Ako, MD

Rose Taldon, MA

Paul Moise, NJ

Linda Bonaventura, IN

Anjanette Miller, IL

Jennifer Anderson-Davis, MO

Christopher Dean, NY

Barbara Birchenough, NJ

Michael Marceaux, LA

Karen Carmello, NY

Pamela Orlando, NJ

Joshua Bush, SC

Celia Lardizabal Marcos, CA

Jenni Claire Bartolome, NJ

David Joel Perea, NV

Helen Gbodi, DC

Sheila Faye Christian, PA

Charles Arrington, NJ

Karla Dominguez, TX

Felicia Ailende, IL

Brittany Bruner Ringo, CA

Cristino Evangelista Fabro, NY

Emmanuel J. Carrillo, NJ

Lydia Corazon Tandoc Macuja, MI

Celia Yap Banago, MO

Jerry Alford, AL

Paulette Thomas Mickle, IL

Romeo Agtarap, NY

Gabriel Chinwendu, DC

Nina Forbes, VA

Kiara Anderson McDade, IL

Tina Reeves, OH

Sheena Miles, MS

Shenetta White Ballard, LA

Marsha Bantle, IN

Krist Angielen Castro Guzman, IL

Maria E. Lopez, IL

Ann Hinkhouse, IA

Rose Liberto, NC

Robert V. Piemonte, NY

Barbara Stewart, NC

Denny Gilliam, NY

Kelly Mazzarella, NY

Irene Burgonio, NY

Deborah Eubanks Stevers, GA

Milagros Abellera, TX

Judy Heimann, IL

Bernard Atta, OH

Karon Hoffman, IL

Candace Allen, AL

Marie Armitstead, MA

J. Aleksandr Vollmann, WA

Sandra Oldfield, CA

Kurt Julian, WA

Valerina Singer, AZ

Marcia Barga, OH

Victoria Greco, GA 

Kathy Sims, SC

Deborah Sheridan, MA

Joshua Obra, CA

Jessica Cavazos, TX

Melinda Spears, MS

Donna DeHart, SC

Sonia Brown, FL

Cristina Baldado, CA

Penny Scarangella Smith, FL

Yolanda Coar, GA

Vincent DeJesus, NV

James White, FL

Rodolfo Solano, TX

Jason Garcia, TX

Oliver Isleta, CA

Cheryl Morrow, AR

Francisco de Leon Dadis, CA

Jack Brewer, AL

Saludacion Fontanilla, CA

Donna Holloway, TX

Venezia Monroe, FL

John Vereb, KY

Elaine McRae, MS

William Ricketts, MS

Kevin Graiani, NY

Irena Hartell, NY

Rosemary Sell, NY

Samantha Hickey, ID

Nueva Parazo Singian, CA

Pammela Baker, NC

Shelley Smith, MS

Kindra Irons, IN

Joan Neudecker, NY

Special thanks to Dr. Claire Rezba, @CTZebra for her extensive efforts to memorialize HCWs lost to the pandemic.