A minute of silence was followed by heartfelt applause. The hospital flag was flown at half mast. Flowers came from all over. And a hundred people gathered outside the emergency room of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in the UK to honor the life and work of Filipina staff nurse Estrella Catalan.
Estrella, 52, passed away Friday with Covid-19, according to the BBC, in the hospital she served for more than 18 years. The Bohol native (she’s from Candijay and Lila, says The Bohol Chronicle) joined the organization in September of 2002 and earned a reputation for being a hardworking, conscientious and caring nurse, someone who put the needs of others first.
No wonder the great number of people who stood under the snow for her Monday to pay their last respects.
Sam Higginson, Chief executive of NNUH NHS (National Health Service) Foundation Trust, remembers Estrella to be “a wonderful person and a caring and conscientious nurse who loved to teach and mentor students,” the BBC reports.
Even on her hospital bed, she would talk about wanting to return to her hospital duties, care for her patients as well as assist her colleagues in the ER. In January, she agreed to an interview with the BBC. According to Mirror.co.uk, she said she wanted to help “but I don’t know when.” Helpless and emotional and struggling to speak through tubes, Estrella added, "I don't mind working and doing even extra shifts to help the trust, but I'm here as a patient."
“She touched so many people's lives, she was always kind and supportive of colleagues and will be much, much missed,” Higginson told the gathering outside the hospital, according to the Eastern Daily Press.
The crowd that Monday was composed of friends and colleagues, some from the East of England Ambulance Service, some from another hospital, and some first responders from the Norfolk Accident Rescue Service, says the EDP. Estrella was assigned to the NNUH’s emergency department and its acute stroke team.
The attendees described the ceremony as tranquil and respectful. Many brought white flowers, heeding the family’s request. At one point, someone in the crowd made the poignant gesture of raising Estrella’s ID badge up in the air.
According to the GoFundMe page set up by one of her friends, Estrella “fought with all her strength and will doing all she could to get back to her beloved husband Melvin and their sons John and Josh.” Her death follows that of her second son Vince two years ago.
She was supposed to have left her family a promise she will be back with them but lost the battle with Covid after two weeks of treatment at the NNUH’s critical care department. The GoFundMe page describes her to be a loving, dedicated and caring wife to her husband Melvin and the best mother to her children.