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labor Nurse Dies of Coronavirus After Treating a Patient Without Wearing a N95 Mask Because of Shortages

The nurses union SEIU 121 have also filed a complaint with the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration calling nurse Cecilia Marcos' death "the result of inadequate PPE provided to staff."

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Health care workers look on during a memorial and candle light vigil for Hollywood Presbyterian Nurse Celia Marcos who died two days after testing positive for coronavirus at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles., Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG

A 61-year-old nurse has died from coronavirus after she attempted to resuscitate a man who had already been diagnosed with the disease, while not wearing the proper protective masks, due to a shortage at the hospital.

Celia Lardizabal Marcos was diagnosed with COVID -19 two weeks after she had been conducting chest compressions on the man who was already receiving treatment for the virus. 

At the time she was giving the life saving treatment, she was wearing a surgical mask instead of an N95 mask which offers medical staff far greater protection.

Staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have admitted that the change in protective gear was specifically due to a shortage.

'Despite these efforts, and our commitment to following all guidelines, we still lost one of our own to this terrible virus, and we feel this loss very deeply,' Hollywood Presbyterian officials said in a statement.

The nurses union SEIU 121 have also filed a complaint with the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration calling Marcos' death 'the result of inadequate PPE provided to staff.' 

'Celia was called to a COVID-19 isolation room while wearing only a surgical mask — not the required N95 respirator, gown, face shield, and booties that her hospital should have given her for her protection,' said SEIU 121 President Nina Wells said in a statement. 'Now we know she gave her life to try to save a life.' 

Hospital officials do not agree that Marcos was under-equipped and say an investigation has determined she did not have 'unprotected exposure to COVID-19 at the hospital,' they said.

They insist that nurses responding to 'code blues' are provided with the proper equipment.

Marcos' death, on April 17, has highlighted an ongoing problem that has been a frequent cause for concern throughout the global pandemic.

Countless doctors and nurses have complained of having to reuse masks several times instead of throwing them away, thereby increasing their risk and possible exposure to the disease. 

During the incident in question, a man with COVID-19 had stopped breathing and Marcos rushed into his room to treat him without wearing the more protective N95 mask which would have taken time to retrieve and put on.

Carrying out chest compressions and intubating the patient also risked spewing dangerous virus particles that may have landed on her face and clothes leaving her at a high risk of catching the disease.

Fourteen days after carrying out the life-saving treatment, she lost her own.

And while Marcos is undoubtedly a hero, her death was needless were it not for the lack of PPE in the hospital where she had worked since 2004.  

Staff at the hospital say the masks are hard to come by with staff who do receive them often asked to reuse them for several days.  

'The hospital wasn't giving us appropriate PPE — the N95s were locked,' said one nurse to the Los Angeles Times. 'It's just too painful for everybody, what happened to her.'

Marcos had a feeling that she may have been exposed and wrote as much in a text message.

'I was the one right in front of his face,' Marcos wrote to her niece explaining how she had stayed in the patient's room for half an hour while he was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator to help him breathe.

Marcos did not show symptoms of the disease for a further two weeks after the incident and she passed away two days later. 

'It was heartbreaking… She passed away alone, without family by her side,' her son John Marcos said to KTLA. 'The hospital she was admitted in was also the hospital she was working in, so at least there were coworkers who knew her. 

'She knew they needed her and that was all she needed as a reason,' Marco said.

'I want people to remember she's not just a regular nurse. She went above and beyond and she made the ultimate sacrifice unfortunately.' 

GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Marco's funeral expenses. 

Staff paid tribute to Marcos in a vigil outside the entrance to the hospital in their scrubs. 

Before the nurses first shift without Marcos, a prayer was said for her.  

'It's difficult to even fathom that Celia is gone,' one nurse said. 'I still think of her as being on vacation. It is easier than having to lose someone.'    

In the days since her death, staff members have begun to demand better protections after Marcos' death with some even refusing to work without proper protective gear. 

'I love my job, but I'm not trying to die a hero,' she said.