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Nurse with Jackson Health System dies from complications due to coronavirus

Other medical healthcare professionals say they’re working in fear

MIAMI – The ongoing spread of coronavirus has claimed the life of a South Florida medical health professional.

Jackson Health System confirmed the death of nurse Araeli Buendia Ilagen.

They said she died from complications of COVID-19.

Ilagen worked at the hospital for nearly 33 years, according to the release.

The full statement read:

“Our Jackson Health System family is mourning the death of longtime Jackson nurse Araceli Buendia Ilagan, who recently died from complications of COVID-19. Araceli dedicated nearly 33 years of her life treating some of our most critically ill patients. During her long and storied career, she also mentored and trained other nurses, and was a champion for the profession. As we battle this global public health crisis, caregivers throughout the world are bravely serving on the frontlines, often putting their patients’ lives before theirs. These medical professionals – people like Araceli – are the true heroes, and we salute them all.”

Local 10 News’ Christina Vazquez asked if Ilagen’s co-workers and patients were also tested for COVID-19, and Jackson responded:

“We have testing protocols to appropriately prioritize employees and patients; these protools in follow CDC guidelines and take into account the testing capacity in South Florida.”

It’s still under investigation how she became ill and how many patients and co-workers she came into contact with.

Ilagan worked her last shift at the Jackson Memorial ICU on Tuesday, according to Jackson Health.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Ilagen was issued her license in 1982 and had been practicing since then.

She was a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), which is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization. That affiliation information is also according to the Florida DOH.

Meanwhile, nurses at Jackson continue to carry out their roles as healthcare professionals, but privately, some have told Local 10 News that many are working in fear, especially after two nurses were confirmed to have COVID-19; Ilagan and Herine Baron, who was diagnosed along with her seven-month-old son.

They are recovering, thankfully, several days after their positive diagnosis.

“I’m home right now self-quarantining, but I feel like I’m getting better,” Baron said.

Baron is an emergency room nurse and one of several that has been logging her ordeal on social media, without directly calling out her employer.

The union that represents roughly 5,000 nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals within the Jackson Health System addressed the issue in a statement which reads in part:

“Our SEIU Local 1991 and Jackson Health family is deeply saddened by the loss of Celi Buendia Ilagan, RN. She was a wonderful person and caregiver who spent over three decades of her life in service to our community at Jackson. She was truly one of our finest, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and co-workers.

We are immensely grateful to all of the nurses, doctors and health care professionals who are working tirelessly every day to care for our community through this crisis. And we will continue to fight for expanded access to testing and personal protective equipment, to make sure our patients and members have the resources they need to stay safe in the fight against coronavirus.”

In unity and sorrow,

Martha Baker, RN President, SEIU Local 1991

Saturday morning, the Department of Health announced that Miami-Dade County had 1,003 positive cases of coronavirus.

There are also now three deaths due to COVID-19 in Miami-Dade, according to the DOH.


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