Tributes to devoted nurse after Covid-19 tragedy
Tributes have been paid to devoted Norwich nurse, mother and Catholic Cathedral steward Estrella Catalan, who died last Friday at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital where she worked, after a month-long battle against Covid-19. Eldred Willey reports.
Emergency Department Staff Nurse Estrella, aged 52, who had been receiving treatment in the hospital’s Critical Care Complex, lost her battle against Covid-19 on February 5. She had worked in Accident & Emergency and was also an important member of the acute stroke team. Altogether she had worked at the hospital for nearly 20 years, since arriving from the Philippines. Colleagues and friends have flooded social media with touching tributes.
An active member of the St John’s Cathedral parish, where she served as a steward, Estrella leaves behind a husband, Melvin, and sons John and Josh. Their middle son, Vince, sadly died two years ago.
“They are a lovely family,” said Matthew Fernandez-Graham, Director of Finance and Resources for the Diocese of East Anglia. “We got to know them through Estrella’s son Josh. She was part of the Filipino team which organised the Sinulog Festival for the Baby Jesus.”
Canon David Paul from St John’s Cathedral said: “Estrella was a really devoted member of the Cathedral congregation and community. She worked tirelessly to help others. The outpouring of support for her family is testament to how many lives she touched.
“During her last hours, Fr Leo led the rosary with other members of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital nursing team as Fr Simon anointed her. Her passing leaves a hole in the lives of many, but we especially remember her family: we offer our prayers for her husband Melvin and their children, and all who grieve Estrella’s passing. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Just a month ago Estrella gave an emotional interview to the BBC from her hospital bed. “I want to help,” she said. “But I don't know when. I don't mind working and doing even extra shifts to help the trust, but I'm here as a patient. I'm helpless."
Two online fundraising pages for Estrella and her family have already generated over £47,000 from 2,700 donors.
Colleague and friend Jenelyn Bales set up one page, which says: “To her colleagues, Estrella is most caring, conscientious and hardworking person a department could ask for. She puts the needs of others first before her own. Her selflessness and dedication carried on even when she was on her hospital bed, she still thought and talked about when she could go back to work to help patients and colleagues throughout this pandemic.”
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Norfolk and Norwich chief executive Sam Higginson said: “Estrella was a hugely respected, loved and dedicated member of the Emergency Department team and the Acute Stroke Team. She was a wonderful person and a caring and conscientious nurse, who loved to teach and mentor students; she will be terribly missed.
“We know this will be a huge shock to our staff and over the coming days and weeks we will formulate a fitting memorial to Estrella in collaboration with her family, friends and colleagues.
“This is a heart-breaking reminder of the situation we are facing every day to help others and we want to thank our staff for their ongoing courage and commitment during the pandemic.”
Colleagues at the NNUH and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn have paid tribute with a minute’s silence and clapping.
Estrella's funeral is planned for March 5 and there will be a vigil for the night before to allow family, friends and colleagues to go to St John's Cathedral to pay their respects.
Pictured above is Estrella Catalan and, below, with her family.