Health & Lifestyle

Filipino nurse, 41, died of Covid after she was coughed on by a resident at a care home

A ‘beloved’ Filipino nurse died of Covid just days after being coughed on by a care home resident, an inquest has heard.

Leilani Medel, 41, was covering the night shift for a colleague at the Anwen Care Home in Bridgend, South Wales, during the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020.

The mother-of-one was not required to wear PPE while treating a patient with lung problems and regular chest infections, as it was believed she did not have Covid, the inquest was told. 

There was no testing regime in care homes at the time and the patient had been diagnosed over the phone by a GP. 

But within days of being coughed on by the patient, Mrs Medel fell ill with Covid and on March 31 she was hospitalised with a high fever. She was placed on a ventilator but died from the virus on April 9.  

Leilani Medel, 41, remembered being coughed on by a resident after agreeing to fill in for a colleague during the height of the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020

Leilani Medel, 41, remembered being coughed on by a resident after agreeing to fill in for a colleague during the height of the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020

Mrs Medel (pictured with her husband Johnny) She was concerned about working the fill-in shift at Anwen Care Home in Bridgend, South Wales, due to the number of Covid cases there

Mrs Medel (pictured with her husband Johnny) She was concerned about working the fill-in shift at Anwen Care Home in Bridgend, South Wales, due to the number of Covid cases there

An inquest into her death heard Mrs Medel was concerned about working the fill-in shift due to the coronavirus cases at the home, where she had not worked for more than five years.

In total, the nurse cared for two patients with coronavirus symptoms in close contact while wearing PPE, and two patients with suspected chest infections without protective clothing, reports the BBC. 

One of those patients was then hospitalised, where they tested positive for Covid-19 and later died.

Clinical lead Janet Caffrey, who is now manager at the home, said it later came to her attention that Mrs Medel complained about being coughed on.

She said PPE was not used because the resident had lung problems and regular chest infections, and testing was not available in care homes.

Ms Caffery said: ‘We were taking our advice from Public Health Wales, any government statements.’

The inquest heard Mrs Medel was admitted to Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend on March 31, 2020 with a high fever. She was ventilated but her condition deteriorated and she died on April 9.

Her husband Johnny Medel said she loved her job and described her as a beloved wife and mother to their daughter.

He said: ‘What I liked about Leilani, apart from her beauty, was her innocence and sincerity.

‘When she gave care to someone, it would be sincere. She worked mainly with the elderly and I could see how much she enjoyed her job. I was so proud of her and what she had achieved.’

The inquest heard Mrs Medel, who was born in Santiago in the Philippines, had a happy home life and was excited for the future.

Mr Medel added: ‘I can’t get over why it had to end, Leilani was our happiness.

‘I hope she will be remembered as a nurse who loved to care for people.’

The inquest heard Mrs Medel was admitted to Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend on March 31, 2020 with a high fever

The inquest heard Mrs Medel was admitted to Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend on March 31, 2020 with a high fever

Tragic nurse Leilani Medel

Tragic nurse Leilani Medel

The inquest heard Mrs Medel (pictured) also treated two other ill residents – but PPE was not required because they had suspected chest infections. One of those patients was then hospitalised where they tested positive for Covid-19 and later died

Mrs Medel's husband Johnny Medel Jnr and his daughter Carmina Medel at their home in Bridgend, South Wales

Mrs Medel’s husband Johnny Medel Jnr and his daughter Carmina Medel at their home in Bridgend, South Wales

The inquest in Pontypridd continues.

Between March 9 and December 28 last year, 883 health and social care workers died of Covid caught while caring for infected patients in hospitals and care homes, according to the Office for National Statistics.

An unaccountably high proportion were nurses and healthcare workers from the Philippines who uprooted their lives to work for the NHS.

In March last year, Professor Tim Cook, a critical care consultant, and Dr Simon Lennane, a GP in Herefordshire, began to analyse deaths among front-line workers reported in newspapers and on social media.

They found that of 106 health and social care staff who had died up until April 22, 63 per cent were from non-white ethnic groups.

And 19 were from the Philippines — more than from the next five countries combined. That’s 18 per cent of the deaths, despite Filipinos making up around just 1.5 per cent of the NHS workforce.

Dr Lennane, a GP for nearly 30 years, found himself ‘near tears’ as he uncovered their stories. 

‘They were people who’d left their own families behind in the Philippines to work for our NHS, often putting their patients before themselves,’ he previously told the Daily Mail.

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