Nurse Dies of Covid-19 at West Middlesex Hospital

Jennie Sablayan had pleaded for better protection for herself and colleagues

Jennie Sablayan
Jennie Sablayan. Picture: Zentar UK

A nurse who warned that frontline medical staff urgently needed more Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] has died after testing positive for Covid-19.

“Hardworking and humble” Jennie Sablayan, 44, was a haematology nurse at University College Hospital (UCLH) and died in intensive care on May 5.

She leaves behind two daughters, aged 10 and 14, and husband Joel, who is also a nurse.

In one of her final Facebook posts on April 5, Mrs Sablayan posted a link to a news story about Watford General nurse John Alagos, 23, who had died with the virus and warned she “feared” for her and colleagues’ lives.

She wrote: “As a nurse I fear for my life and the life (sic) of all my colleagues who are in the battlefield without the proper gear. We are like an army going to a battle without the complete armour. Something has to be done. Please help!”

Mrs Sablayan was helping treat Covid-19 patients until mid-April when she tested positive for the virus, friends said. She was self-isolating at home until her condition worsened last week and she was taken to West Middlesex Hospital.

She was placed on a ventilator over the weekend as her breathing worsened.

Mrs Sablayan, who lived in Richmond, was originally from the Philippines, where she had trained as a nurse before coming to the UK. She had worked at UCLH for almost 20 years and was also a clinical advisor for nursing agency Zentar UK.

Company director Fahim Modak has set up an online fundraising campaign to help Mrs Sablayan’s family after her death. It has already raised more than £35,000.

Friend Mr Modak said: “Jennie was the kindest, most lovely person you could ever meet. She was outgoing, bubbly and so close to her family, especially her daughters. I know they are all in complete shock, everyone who knew her is. She was dedicated to nursing.

“She always said she was treated well at UCLH and didn’t raise PPE shortages with me, but I know she worried about colleagues in other hospitals that perhaps didn’t have the right equipment all the time. Jennie always wanted to do whatever she could for her colleagues as well as her patients.”

UCLH chief executive Marcel Levi said: “Jennie was a much-loved specialist haematology nurse. An expert in her field, Jennie looked after patients with leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers with much kindness and great dedication.

“UCLH staff and patients will remember Jennie for her hard-working and unassuming approach during her 18 years of invaluable service. We will miss her terribly, her humour, her compassion, her friendship and her humbleness in supporting her team and her patients.

“Our thoughts are with her husband and her two children, her friends and other loved ones.”

Rachael Burford - Local Democracy Reporter

May 11, 2020