In Memoriam: Fallen NYSNA Nurses

NYSNA is saddened at the passing of NYSNA members, along with their nursing colleagues, who have fallen victim to COVID-19.

If you have pictures or remembrances of colleagues you’d like to share, send them to covidmemorial@nysna.org.

Supee Pojjananuvat, RN

Supee Pojjananuvat was an OR nurse and active NYSNA member at Montefiore-New Rochelle Hospital where she worked for the past six years. She previously worked at St. John’s Riverside Hospital, as well as a number of other facilities after she immigrated from Thailand in the 1970s. Supee passed away from COVID-19 on May 15, 2020, a month after turning 74. Her co-workers remember her as hardworking and generous, with one colleague even calling her glamorous, noting how hard it is to pull that off in scrubs! She will be sorely missed by everyone in periop at Montefiore-New Rochelle.

 

Maria “Bambi” Roaquin, RN

Maria Roaquin, affectionately known as “Bambi” by her friends and family, was a critical care nurse and active NYSNA member at Hudson Valley Hospital, where she worked for the last decade. She passed away from COVID-19 on May 22, 2020. As a nurse, Roaquin was following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mother, Elizabeth Leighton, immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the 1960s to work as a nurse and was also a long-time NYSNA member. Maria also worked at a dialysis clinic in Yorktown Heights, New York. She will be sorely missed by her colleagues and friends, who organized a touching candlelight memorial for her on the riverfront in Peekskill on May 28.

 

Evelyn Ochoa-Celano, RN

Evelyn Ochoa-Celano was a PACU nurse and NYSNA member at Lincoln Hospital until she retired at the end of last year. She worked for New York Health and Hospitals for 37 years, including working for several years at Coler-Goldwater before joining the staff at Lincoln Hospital. She passed away from COVID-19 on May 13, 2020 just three days after her 63rd birthday. She will be remembered by the entire Health and Hospitals nursing family for her dedication and decades of public service to some of New York’s neediest patients.

The family encourages colleagues to leave condolences on this memorial site, where you can also view photos of Evelyn and her family.

 

 

Renee French, RN

Renee French was an OR nurse at New York Presbyterian, where she worked since 2009. She was an active NYSNA member, serving on the union’s professional practice committee, participating in contract campaigns, and more recently volunteering for the NYP COVID Action Team. Renee passed away on May 19, 2020, and is survived by her teenage daughter Jaya.

You can support Jaya through a GoFundMe page, established by her family.

 

 

Irene (Rene) Burgonio, RN

Irene (Rene) Burgonio became a NYSNA member in 2003, when she started working as a hemodialysis nurse. She was a beloved, long-time leader at Long Island College Hospital before it closed, and more recently had been working at Fresenius in Brooklyn. She passed away on May 9, 2020, at fifty-four years old.

 

 

Rose Zubko, RN

Rose Zubko was a longtime NYSNA member who started working in 1985 at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, back when it was known as Mid-Island Hospital. She started as a part-time admission nurse and was on the IV team. As her children got older she took a full time position, spending the last 20 years in the PACU, as well as serving as the LBU Chair at St. Joseph. Rose had retired from the hospital, but was still working per diem before passing away on May 8, 2020, at seventy-one years of age. She is survived by her husband Paul, their children Deborah, Karyn, Kevin, Brian, grandchildren Nicholas, Dominick, and Christopher, as well as two sisters and a brother.

Donations in Rose’s memory may be made to Kellenberg Memorial High School.

 

 

Mavis Charles, RN

Mavis Charles, a native of Guyana, started working as an RN at Long Island College Hospital in 1999, and was an active NYSNA member there until it closed. She was sixty-three years old when she passed away on May 12, 2020.


Her colleague and friend Mary Tusca said, “My dear, dear friend has been called away to eternal rest. Mavis, you were one of those friends that when we met it’s like we were never apart. You fought the good fight!”

 

Svetlana Vinokur, RN

Svetlana Vinokur was a 56-year old obstetrics nurse and active NYSNA member at NYC Health+Hospitals/Coney Island. Svetlana passed away from COVID-19 on May 1, 2020. She will be missed by niece Olga Greenway, as well as many other family members and colleagues, and friends.

 

 

Erwin Lambrento, RN

Erwin Lambrento was an ER nurse at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, where he was an active NYSNA member and served for more than two decades. A native of the Philippines, Erwin was known to brighten up many colleagues’ and patients’ evenings working the night shift. He passed away on May 9, 2020 at fifty-nine years old. Erwin is survived by his wife, Aurora Ibera-Lambrento, a retired respiratory therapist, as well as his son Sigmund and daughter Cara.

You can read a moving tribute from Erwin’s nephew, Ernesto Jon Ebuen here. Almost 20 years ago, Erwin helped his nephew come to the US from the Philippines to compete in a table tennis tournament. Ten years later, Ernesto founded the Philippine Table Tennis Academy to teach others the sport. In honor of his uncle, “Tito Erwin,” Ernesto is now renaming the academy the Erwin Lambrento Table Tennis Academy. First responders held a tribute to Erwin outside of Elmhurst Hospital the night he passed away.

 

 

Gresmor Blackman-Douglas, RN

Gresmor Blackman-Douglas was an RN and an active NYSNA member in the surgical intensive care unit at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Sadly, Gresmor lost her life in a horrific single-vehicle accident in North Valley Stream on May 3, on her way to the hospital to work on the front lines.

Gresmore started working at Maimonides in 1999, and the past 18 years in the ICU. She was fifty-eight years old. Newsday featured a profile of Gresmore, with family and friends sharing their memories.

 

 

Azinet Pudpud, RN

Azinet Pudpud, RN started working at Lincoln Hospital in 1995, most recently working in the Neonatal ICU. Azinet passed away on April 27, 2020, on the eve of her 62nd birthday. She will be sorely missed by colleagues.


As her loving husband Danny Pudpud wrote, “She was a very selfless person and thinks and cares about her patients wellbeing and condition first. She takes care of them without any mental reservation. She is well loved by her coworkers and is the life and joy of the group.”

“It was her lifelong mission to help provide generously for the financial well being of her family and help them achieve financial independence and self-reliance. She always thought of others even if she only knew them for a short period of time. She easily gets close to anyone she just met. She will be forever remembered as the beautiful and loving person that she is,” he added.

 

Virdree Burns, Jr., RN

Virdree Burns Jr., a registered nurse for the past 26 years, passed away from COVID-19 on April 19. Virdree became a NYSNA member in 2002 while working for the NY Department of Sanitation. More recently, Virdree started working at Wellcare. He is survived by two sisters and one nephew.

Colleagues and friends may leave a message to Virdree’s family at this memorial page.

 

Stephen Marrone, EdD, RN-BC, NEA-BC, CTN-A

Stephen Marrone worked as Associate Professor of Nursing at Long Island University, and he also taught nursing education at Columbia University's Teachers College. Stephen was a NYSNA member from 1999-2006, when he was an Educational Specialist in Perioperative Nursing Services at the Mount Sinai Hospital.


Stephen was a gifted teacher, leader, consultant, nurse, and prolific writer. He had a knack in seeing the big picture, was an expert in organizational culture, cultural competence, and transcultural care. He was also a nursing researcher in transcultural nursing, critical care, perianesthesia nursing, and post-operative nursing care.

Stephen’s life was defined by his care for those around him. He was always eager to take his colleagues under his wing and guide them through any project, class, or experience. Through his devotion in teaching and the nurturing of his students Stephen’s legacy lives on in a great many nurses. He will be deeply missed.

— Robin Krinsky, Director at Large, NYSNA Board of Directors

 

Thyce Mattis, RN

Thyce Mattis worked as a registered nurse with the Montefiore hospital system starting in 1990 in Med Surg and then working in Homecare. She later became a per diem nurse until 2016. She was an active NYSNA member and a revered RN in her field. She passed away on April 6, 2020 just a few weeks before her 60th birthday.

 

 

Maria Guia Cabillon, RN

Mama Guia, as her colleagues called her, worked as the Head Nurse of Kings County Hospital Center’s Emergency Department. She is an active NYSNA member, and served in the hospital for more than 30 years. She also worked at New York Community Hospital in Brooklyn. She passed away on April 26, 2020 due to COVID-19, and is survived by her husband, 4 daughters, 2 grandkids, sisters, nieces, and nephews. Here is a link to a news video about Guia.


Co-worker Shane Degracia, RN composed a message honoring Guia.

A GoFundMe page was established by fellow co-workers to offset the cost of the funeral and transportation of her remains back to Iloilo City, Philippines.

ABC7NY featured a profile of Maria Cabillon on Eyewitness News today, May 9.

 

Romeo Agtarap, RN

Romeo Agtarap passed away from COVID-19 on April 24, 2020. A 63 year-old Registered Nurse and active NYSNA member, Romeo worked in the Emergency Department of New York Presbyterian for 20 years before retiring last year. He had since returned to work as a per diem. His colleagues remember his wit and the way Romeo loved to make them laugh.

 

 

Steven Malagraph, RN

Steven Malagraph worked in the Emergency Department at Nyack Hospital and was an active NYSNA member until he passed away on April 22, 2020. He was 59 years old. Steve started working at Nyack Hospital in 2008, and his co-workers described him as a true mentor and leader.


Several of Steve’s colleagues sent along these remembrances:

“There are people you meet in your life that connect seamlessly with everyone. They leave you feeling happier and stronger. You stand taller and prouder having had them as a friend. That was our Steve.”

“Husband, father, NYPD ESU, 9/11 responder, SOAC ambulance member, ER Nurse, teacher, grad student, employee and friend… so many hats that Steve wore so well. Steve’s larger-than-life character touched many people; he liked to talk and we liked to listen. In all these roles he brought joy, laughter, compassion, and above all, humility.”

“We will always treasure the laughter he gave us and the things he taught us. As a mentor, no question was stupid; he took time to share what he knew. Steve was a “step-up-to-the-plate” colleague, never running from bedbugs or Ebola. He kept us entertained with his extravagant stories from his rich life experiences.”

“Thank you for being our friend, colleague, and partner in the ER, Steven. We are better for having known you.”

“Rest in peace, Nurse Steve. Continue your nursing practice from above. We will never forget you.”

 

Robert V. Piemonte, EdD, RN, FAAN

Robert V. Piemonte, past President of the New York State Nurses Association, passed away on April 21, 2020. Many longtime NYSNA leaders will remember Robert, who was also the retired executive director of the National Student Nurses Association. Before retirement, Piemonte held various teaching and administrative positions in New York State and in national nursing organizations, among them the American Nurses Foundation and Nurses House. He also served as Chief Nurse of the 8th Army Medical Unit. NYSNA honors his service to our organization and the entire nursing profession.

 

 

Marlino Cagas, RN

Marlino Cagas, an RN at Harlem Hospital and active NYSNA member, passed away April 20, 2020. Cagas worked as a pharmacy tech at Harlem Hospital for many years, before embarking on a nursing career at age 60. He started at the bedside in 2018, and will be sorely missed by his Harlem Hospital colleagues. He is survived by two sisters here in New York, and several other siblings in the Philippines.

 

 

Roxanne Bent, RN

Roxanne Bent, a Med-Surg nurse at NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, lost her battle with COVID-19 on April 18, 2020. She was 48 years old. Bent, an active NYSNA member, worked at Brooklyn Methodist since 1999. She will be sorely missed by her colleagues on Miner 8.


Roxanne’s colleague Trudian Singh noted “she was an amazing nurse, an amazing mentor, an amazing colleague, but most importantly an amazing friend.” You can find out more about Roxanne and how to help her family here.

 

 

 

Rebecca Yee, RN

Rebecca Yee, a Mount Sinai Pediatric nurse and NYSNA member since 1999, passed away on April 17 from COVID-19. She was 48 years old. Rebecca had also worked at Centerlight Health System. A week before her own death, Rebecca lost her mother to COVID-19. She is survived by her brother Hubert Yee and father King Sun Yee. You can find out more about Rebecca, and how to help her family here.

 

Maureen Lunney, RN

Maureen Lunney was a 59 year-old night shift nurse, and active NYSNA member, at Richmond University Medical Center. A native of Staten Island, she worked at RUMC for over 38 years before losing her battle with COVID-19 on April 16, 2020. She leaves behind her husband Leo and her three sons, three daughters, and six grandchildren. You can read more about Maureen here.

 

 

Jacqueline Rowe, RN

Jacqueline Rowe worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse at Bellevue Hospital Center before retiring in 2018. She started working at Bellevue in 1987 and was an active NYSNA member before her retirement. Rowe passed away on April 15, 2020. Tragically, Jacqueline also lost her father a week before to COVID-19 and her mother was killed by the virus just a few days later.


One of her Bellevue colleagues wrote, “I am so sad to hear that Jackie and others have passed. I knew Jackie well, and had the utmost respect for her nursing knowledge and sense of humor!”

Emma Goolsby, RN

Emma Goolsby was a psychiatric nurse at Bellevue Hospital and active NYSNA member for 17 years before she passed away from COVID-19 on April 14, 2020. Prior to working at Bellevue Hospital Emma had also worked at Terrence Cardinal Cook Health Care Center for over a decade. She was 56 years old. She is survived by her two sisters Sabrina and Wanda and will be missed by her Bellevue colleagues.

 

 

 

Ernesto “Audie” DeLeon

Ernesto “Audie” DeLeon was an ADN at Bellevue Hospital, where he worked for over 30 years. On April 13, 2020, DeLeon lost his 13 day battle with COVID-19. You can find out more about DeLeon and how to support his family here.


Audie’s colleague Claire Martinez shared these memories: “During his tenure, he was an incredible inspiration and a mentor to hundreds of nurses, doctors and other clinical staff. He was an immensely kind soul with a humble demeanor. He will always be dearly loved by his friends who have become family, his coworkers, and relatives.”

Ernesto’s colleagues at Bellevue Hospital held a service in his honor, and posted a portion of the remembrance on YouTube.

Estelita Atienza Solomon, RN

Estelita Atienza Solomon, a 72 year-old retired head nurse from Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, passed away from COVID-19 on April 10, 2020. Solomon worked at Wyckoff for more than 35 years. Solomon is survived by her daughter Catherine Solomon, an active NYSNA member at Mt. Sinai Hospital who is currently recovering from COVID-19 herself. Tragically, Catherine and her sister also lost their father, Antonio Solomon, to the virus two weeks prior to losing their mother Estelita.

 

Mary Ellen Porter, RN

Mary Ellen Porter was a nurse manager at Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC), where she worked for more than 25 years. She fell victim to COVID-19 on April 9, 2020. Diane Donaghy, RN, president of the local bargaining unit at RUMC said “She was always there for her staff. In the good times, the bad times, when the floors got crazy, she was quick to put on scrubs and help them when needed.”


One of Mary Ellen’s colleagues, Eileen Fiore, RN, suggested that “Being married to a retired NYPD officer, I know that they put a black band on their shields as a sign of mourning when they lose a co-worker. Maybe as nurses, we could mourn and acknowledge our co-workers by placing a thin white strip of surgical tape across our IDs.”

Susan Sisgundo, RN

Susan Sisgundo, a Neonatal ICU nurse and NYSNA member at Bellevue Hospital passed away on Wednesday April 8 from COVID-19. She was being treated at Queens Hospital. Prior to joining the New York City Health + Hospitals system she worked at Flushing Hospital. A native of the Philippines, Susan was an active NYSNA member, including participation in NYSNA events like our annual lobby day. Susan’s colleagues are organizing to help reunite her with her family in the Philippines. Read more tributes from her colleagues, and how to help her family, here.

Gloria Minor, RN

Gloria Minor was a nurse at Metropolitan Hospital and an active NYSNA member for over 30 years. She passed away from COVID-19 on April 7, 2020 and is survived by her three brothers.

 

 

Aleyamma John, RN

Aleyamma John, 65, a registered nurse at New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens Hospital Center and a 43 year member of NYSNA, passed away on Tuesday, April 7. She began her career at Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, before moving on to the NYC Health + Hospitals system in 2003. We honor Aleyamma’s record of service to the patients of New York, and her career spanning record of NYSNA membership and participation.

Yaw Asante, RN

Yaw Asante, a 60 year-old registered nurse and NYSNA member at Lincoln Hospital, was taken by COVID-19 on April 6. In addition to his service in New York City Health + Hospitals, Mr. Asante had previously worked as a nurse in Correctional Health Services. He is survived by his wife, Rosina Oppong, and three adult children, daughter, Ophelia Gyametaah, and twin sons, Atta Borateng, Sr and Atta Borateng, Jr. You can read a touching profile of Yaw Asante in The New York Times.

Angela Lewis, RN

Angela Lewis was a NYSNA member originally from the United Kingdom who passed away on April 5, 2020. After leaving the Visiting Nurse Association of Staten Island, where she worked for many years, she returned as a per diem nurse in 2011. Not long ago she had to leave the VNA to care for an out-of-state family member.

NYSNA staffmember John Pietaro noted, “She was one of the sweetest people you could ever know” and remarked on how Angela kept her lovely, lilting accent although she lived in the United States for decades. She will be sorely missed by all her colleagues at the VNA.

 

 

Nicanor Baltazar, RN

Nicanor “Nick” Baltazar, a registered nurse from Long Island Care Center in Flushing, NY, passed away from COVID-19 on March 31, 2020. He dedicated 40 years of his life to nursing, 30 of those here in America. He worked in Long Island Care Center for 15 years, and this year would have been his 5th year as the Director of Nursing. He leaves behind his wife Grace Baltazar, also an RN, and his daughter Abigail Baltazar, who just graduated with her BSN. He will be terribly missed by his family and all of those who have worked with him.

 

Theresa Lococo, RN

Theresa Lococo, a 68 year-old pediatric nurse at Kings County Hospital Center, passed away over the weekend of March 28. Theresa was a 48-year NYSNA member, serving patients in New York City’s public hospital system since 1972.

Theresa was also remembered in a recent tribute in the New York Post.


Norma Wilson, a colleague and friend of Theresa, sent these words: “Shock and disbelief are my feelings right now. As a new graduate, I had the pleasure of working with Lacoco (we called each other only by last names at work). Lacoco always had the biggest smile, no matter how busy the pediatric units were. She was loved by all. Rest in peace, Lacoco.”

“Theresa was a hardworking dedicated NY nurse. She was loving, warm person. She will be sorely missed. Rest, my friend.” - Diana Porter

One of Theresa’s colleagues sent this remembrance: “I had the honor or working with Theresa Lococo for the 41 years at Kings County Hospital. We worked together in Pediatrics during my first years, and she was a mentor, teaching me the ropes. In my later years as a Pain Management nurse, I often went to the Pediatric unit where we assisted many patients in pain. She was a patient adovocate, never hesitating to call me to help alleviate their pain. We talked of our years at the “county” and the history we shared. At times, she shared stories of her family with me, and I shared stories of mine. She always spoke with pride and love… a hard working nurse who was one of the best. She will be missed.”

 

Freda Ocran, RN

Freda Ocran was a 51 year-old psychiatric nurse at Jacobi Medical Center who was taken by COVID-19 on March 28, 2020. Freda had previously worked at several other Bronx hospitals, including North Central Bronx and Bronx Lebanon Hospital, and was profiled in the New York Post after she passed away.


Freda’s friend Dinah Bampoe shared photos with us, along with this remembrance: “Freda Ocran, RN, a 51 year old nurse, was a wife, a mother, a sister and a friend. Albert Einstein said, ‘The value of a man should be seen in what he gives, and not in what he is able to receive.’ That is Freda, a selfless individual who gave her all, and died doing what she loved. Missing you already. Rest in perfect peace.”

“We rocked together… worked together since 2005. I surely will miss you Freda!” — Ihuoma Ireaja

Kious Kelly, RN

Kious Kelly was a 48 year-old assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai-West, who died March 24, 2020 from a COVID-19 infection. Kious was the first RN in New York killed by the virus, and before becoming an assistant nurse manager, he was a NYSNA member for several years. You can read moving tributes to Kelly in the New York Times and a profile of his connections between the LGBT community and his work as a nurse in AM New York.

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