COVID-19: friends and colleagues pay tribute after deaths of two NHS staff

Tributes paid to London nurse and Inverclyde healthcare support worker

Picture shows Hammersmith Hospital in London. Tributes have been paid to a London nurse and an Inverclyde care worker following their deaths amid the pandemic.
Hammersmith Hospital in London. Picture: Alamy

A nurse from London and a healthcare support worker from the Inverclyde area of Scotland are the latest health and care staff to die amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hammersmith Hospital nurse Donald ‘Dondee’ Suelto had told his friends he was in self-isolation after displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Healthcare support worker Janice Graham, who died on 6 April, is the first reported NHS worker in Scotland to die from COVID-19.

‘An enthusiastic nurse who loved his NHS job' 

One of Mr Suelto’s friends, Alejandro Fernandez, paid tribute to him on Facebook, calling him ‘an enthusiastic nurse, full of life, (who) loved his NHS job and a spirited friend with a loving heart.’ 

Mr Suelto, originally from the Philippines, had been registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council since 2003.

An Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson confirmed Mr Suelto’s death, but said the cause was not yet clear.

‘We are in touch with next of kin and are focusing on support for them as well as for colleagues at this very difficult time,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Our thoughts and condolences are with Donald’s family, friends and colleagues.’

RCN London regional director Lisa Elliott also expressed her condolences.

‘Donald was one of the many international nurses who came to the capital and took fantastic care of Londoners,’ she said. 

‘Our community, and his patients, will be eternally grateful for the care, compassion and dedication he showed every day.’

Kindness and compassion to patients and colleagues

In a statement following the death of Ms Graham, Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership chief officer Louise Long said: ‘We are saddened to confirm that a member of staff has passed away due to COVID-19. Our thoughts are with Janice’s loved ones at this difficult time.’

She said Ms Graham was a valued member of the district nursing and evening services team, and had brought kindness and compassion to patients and colleagues. ‘Her bright and engaging personality and razor sharp wit will be sorely missed,’ she said.

Scotland’s deputy chief nursing officer Diane Murray said on Twitter: ‘Our deepest sympathies are with Janice Graham’s family at this very sad time. We thank her for her many years of service.’

A total of five nurses are confirmed to have died after contracting COVID-19, with the cause of Mr Suelto's death yet to be confirmed. Four healthcare assistants and support workers, including Ms Graham, have died due to the virus.

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