NEW YORK CITY - Dozens of friends, coworkers and other medical professionals who call themselves the "Hurst crew" (Elmhurst Hospital crew) came together for a “siren salute” to say their last goodbyes to a Filipino hero who lost his life on the frontlines of the battle against the novel coronavirus.
Erwin Lambrento, 58, was an ER nurse at the Elmhurst Hospital in New York City, the epicenter of the US pandemic.
He succumbed to COVID-19 while being treated at the Mount Sinai Hospital on Saturday morning.
Lambrento was described as a stalwart on the night shift and the “King of Triage." He was respected by his peers for his steady work and dedication to his work as an ER nurse.
What many do not know, however, is that Lambrento worked as a doctor in the Philippines who became an ER nurse when he migrated to the US.
Among the last people to visit Lambrento while he was fighting for his life on a ventilator at Mount Sinai was his nephew, Ernesto Jon Ebuen.
“I never knew how he touched so many people until I saw the prayer vigil that they did for my uncle. All the retired nurses, doctors, EMT, firemen, like Police, staff, went over there,” Ebuen said.
"It pains me that he's not able to see how much people loved him, respected him and appreciated him.”
Ebuen said it was his uncle’s generosity that paved the way for him to migrate to the US and pursue his dreams of making it in the sport of table tennis.
“Every time I see a post about you, it hurts me but it always makes me proud that you are my Tito,” he said. “I was able to be in my position because you helped me and opened the doors for me.”
More than 21,000 people in New York have died from the novel coronavirus.
In the North East Coast alone, in the 10 states covered by the Philippine Consulate General in New York City, among the 90 Filipinos who died of COVID-19, 30 of them were frontline workers.
"He risked his life in the service of helping, caring and saving lives of people he doesn’t even know, and putting his own life in danger," Ebuen said.
Ebuen’s uncle described to him what it was like to be in the epicenter of the battle against COVID-19.
“He described it as a zoo, it’s like crazy, never been seen, never been experienced. He even showed me what kind of gas mask he was wearing.”
Though Ebuen graduated with a degree in nursing in the Philippines, he said he has yet to consider going back to the healthcare field.
“I would love to be of service and be able to help.”
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