Veteran Filipina American Nurse Dies Fighting COVID-19 a Week Before Retirement

COVID-19 Nurse

Nurse Celia Yap-Banago passed away on April 21, a week before she was supposed to retire after caring for a COVID-19 patient at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Yap-Banago, 69, is the sixth Filipino nurse to contract the virus, according to Views From the Edge.

She would have celebrated her 40th anniversary at the hospital and left behind two sons and her husband.


Her condition worsened on March 29, according to her son, Jhulan Banago. He received a text on March 23 from his mother when the patient she was treating began showing symptoms.

“Her fever got up to over 101 and she wasn’t eating so that’s when we swapped her back into her room and dad came out to the living room,” Banago told CNN. “Once she went in that Sunday, she did not leave.”

“That’s when I went up to her and she was unresponsive,” he told CNN.

Yap-Banago’s co-worker at the medical center said they treated the infected patient without any personal protective equipment (PPE). The National United Nurses, a nurses’ union she was a part of, is hoping to raise more awareness about the lack of PPE. A spokeswoman for the HCA Midwest Health System called the allegations “vague.”

Friends and family came together on April 23 at the hospital parking lot to honor Yap-Banago. Her family called her a “hero” caring for patients during a global pandemic in a statement to local media.

Her other son, Josh Banago, called her a “great mom,” according to AsAm News.

“From all my friends reaching out to me, the one thing they all say — even though most of them have never met her — is that based on your character, seeing you, your brother, how you guys interact with other people, she had to be a very strong, independent woman, an amazing woman at that based on what she does and how she lives her life,” he said.

Feature Image via 41 Action News

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