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A nurse educator who was helping to ensure colleagues were protected during the pandemic and a nurse who had worked at her hospital for four decades have both died, after contracting Covid-19.
Joselito Habab, orthopaedic trauma nurse co-ordinator at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Liz Spooner, a registered nurse at Swansea Bay University Health Board, are among the latest key workers to lose their life to coronavirus, their employers have confirmed.
“He was an exemplary nurse and role model”
Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Meanwhile, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust has also verified reports of the death of Andrew Ekene Nwankwo, a locum nurse at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.
Filipino national Mr Habab, known to colleagues as Joe, died in the intensive care unit of Whiston Hospital, based in Merseyside, on 20 May.
His wife, Michelle, a nurse in the accident and emergency department at Whiston Hospital, was at his side when he died. Mr Habab also leaves behind their teenage son, Dylan.
Mr Habab joined the team at Warrington Hospital almost 18 years ago, having trained as a nurse in his native Manila, Philippines.
Achieving his Nursing and Midwifery Council registration in 2003, Mr Habab was a staff nurse in trauma and orthopaedics until 2011, when he became a clinical nurse educator. He had recently been promoted to orthopaedic trauma nurse co-ordinator.
However, since the Covid-19 crisis, he had been concentrating on keeping colleagues safe by delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) training and FIT testing for masks, before becoming ill.
In a statement, the trust said: “He was an exemplary nurse and role model and fiercely proud of being both a nurse and a member of the WHH Family. He will be very sadly missed by all who knew and worked with him.”
Mr Habab’s wife and son recently joined a minute’s silence at Warrington Hospital, led by trust chief executive Professor Simon Constable.
There was a simultaneous event at Halton Hospital led by the trust’s chair, Steve McGuirk.
A fundraising page set up in Mr Habab’s memory described him as a “true role model to all who worked with him and beyond”.
It added: “Joe was a fantastic colleague, always ready to help with a smile on his face.
“He worked hard and never left a task unfinished, so much that he earned the coveted title of Employee of the Month in May 2016 as well as the ‘Role Model’ and ‘Working Together’ value badges.
“Joe has been a true emblem of Warrington Hospital, which he has loyally served for 18 years.”
At the time of writing, the fundraising page had collected more than £10,000.
Meanwhile, Swansea Bay University Health Board announced “with great sadness” the death of Ms Spooner.
Ms Spooner had been a registered nurse in Singleton Hospital for 41 years, predominantly working in the coronary care unit and ward nine.
According to ITV News, Ms Spooner was aged 62 and lived in Swansea. She leaves behind a daughter named Zoe.
“Liz has always given her all, delivering an excellent standard of care”
Paying tribute, Jan Worthing, the hospital’s director, said: “Liz has always given her all, delivering an excellent standard of care.
“She was well known throughout Singleton as a fantastic, caring colleague with a dry sense of humour.
“Liz will be sorely missed by us all and her death leaves a massive hole in the Singleton Hospital family,” she said. “Our thoughts are with Liz’s daughter Zoe and her family.”
The death of 46-year-old Mr Nwankwo, who had worked for the NHS for more than 10 years and was of Nigerian heritage, has led to concerns being raised by his family about his access to PPE.
According to the BBC, Mr Nwankwo died with Covid-19 on 16 May, after spending five weeks in the intensive care unit of Broomfield Hospital, where he had worked as a locum.
Tochukwu Nwankwo claimed his brother had been “sent to face the danger without being given the adequate protection – that’s the bottom line, and he told me as much”, and that he had even tried to buy his own PPE online.
However, Broomfield Hospital denied that there had been any issues with PPE at the site. A spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Andrew’s family at this very sad time.
“There has never been a lack of PPE at Broomfield Hospital. The safety of all of our staff is our absolute priority and we have worked incredibly hard to ensure there have always been sufficient stocks of protective equipment for every member of staff who needs it.”
To commemorate the nursing staff who have lost their lives during the pandemic, Nursing Times has created a dedicated memorial page, including a list of names and map that are regularly updated.