A hospice nurse and an acute care nurse who were both experienced in what they did and were highly valued by their teams have died after contracting Covid-19, their employers have confirmed.
Tributes have been paid to senior clinical support nurse Gill Oakes who worked at Bolton Hospice and staff nurse Philomina Cherian who worked on the acute assessment unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
“Gill was the sort of person who always offered to help others”
There have also been unconfirmed reports of the deaths of mental health nurse Olabode Francis Ajanlekoko and nurse Emelita Hurboda.
Ms Oakes, pictured above, died on 30 April at Royal Bolton Hospital after contracting Covid-19. She had worked at the same hospice for almost 24 years
Colleagues of Ms Oakes described her as a “brilliant nurse who often helped new members of the team settle into their role at the hospice”.
Leigh Vallance, chief executive at Bolton Hospice, said: “I am devastated to share news of the loss of our friend and colleague, senior clinical support nurse Gill Oakes.
“She was a dedicated and compassionate member of our team, caring for patients at Bolton Hospice for nearly 24 years.”
Ms Vallance added that Ms Oaked would be “dearly missed” by everyone at the hospice.
“Gill was the sort of person who always offered to help others – nothing was ever too much trouble for her,” added Ms Vallance.
“She was a brilliant nurse who often helped new members of the team settle into their role at the hospice.”
She said the team would “always remember her kindness and her lovely smile”.
“We’d like to thank our colleagues at Royal Bolton Hospital for taking care of Gill, and our thoughts are with her family at this impossibly sad time,” said Ms Vallance.
The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also confirmed the death of Ms Cherian who died at the hospital where she worked on 30 April due to Covid-19.
In an online statement, the trust described Ms Cherian as a “popular and hugely valued member of our OUH nursing family who will be sorely missed by her colleagues as well as by her family and friends”.
Ms Cherian was originally from Kerala in India and had worked at the trust for many years across several clinical areas.
Chief nursing officer at the trust, Sam Foster, said: “I wanted to express that at this very sad time our thoughts are with the family of Philomina, as well as with her friends and colleagues throughout the trust.”
Ms Foster described Ms Cherian as an “incredibly caring friend and colleague who will be terribly missed by us all”.
She asked colleagues at the trust to “remember how she wonderfully cared for her patients and her colleagues, acting as an exemplar nurse to all who met her”.
“She was an incredibly caring friend and colleague who will be terribly missed by us all”
“Philomina was cared for with the utmost love, care and attention and we would like to thank all staff who were involved in her care,” added Ms Foster.
In a personal message to all staff, Dr Bruno Holthof, trust chief executive, and Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, chair, said: “This tragic loss of a member of the OUH family affects us all. Everyone on our team is precious to us. We are very sorry to have to let you know such sad news today.”
Meanwhile, friends of Mr Ajanlekoko have set up a fundraising page in honour of the mental health nurse.
The page said he was a frontline mental health practitioner in the UK who was “working tirelessly during the pandemic for the people in his community” until his “untimely death”.
It described Mr Ajanlekoko as a “very hard working, dedicated, diligent, compassionate individual and a lover of humanity”.
“He was a family man, a husband and father to three beautiful children,” it noted, adding that he was 53 years old.
In addition, there has also been unconfirmed reports on the death of Ms Hurboda.
According to The Guardian, she was 62 and a mother of three. Ms Hurboda was originally from the Philippines and worked as a nurse in Nottingham.
Nursing Times is seeking confirmation on the deaths of both Mr Ajanlekoko and Ms Hurboda.
To commemorate the nursing staff who have lost their lives during the pandemic, Nursing Times has created a dedicated memorial page, which can be viewed here.