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‘It could have been prevented’; Kaiser Permanente nurse dies of COVID-19 after exposure to infected patient

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Nurses at Kaiser Permanente in Fresno gathered outside the hospital Wednesday evening to mourn the loss of one of their own to COVID-19.

Sandy Oldfield, 53, died Monday after battling the virus for two months. The hospital said she fell ill after being exposed to an asymptomatic patient in March. 

Rosemary Garcia worked with Sandy for 17 years and was a close friend.

“Very kind and considerate, prayed with people, believed in God, did everything right, you couldn’t have met a nicer person,” said Garcia.

Garcia describes Sandy as a friend who advocates for her patients and coworkers, many of which showed up to the vigil wearing her favorite color, Broncos orange. Other Fresno first responders drove by the vigil showing support for their colleagues on the frontlines.

But Oldfield’s death is one many at the vigil felt could have been prevented.

“This was an unnecessary death. I wish our employers listened to us from the beginning,” said ICU Nurse Amy Arlund.

Arlund said Oldfield was a nurse in the telemetry unit for more than 20 years, but when the pandemic began she said her unit was not given personal protective equipment.

“They had no masks no face shields no goggles, they were told none of them needed it because no patients were positive,” said Arlund.

Oldfield was exposed to an asymptomatic patient in March, which began her two month battle with the virus.

“The loss of one nurse is tragic for our community because think of all the patients she won’t be able to touch anymore,” said Arlund.

In April, nurses at Kaiser Permanente held a rally calling for better personal protective equipment.

In a statement, Senior Vice President and Area Manager of Kaiser Permanente Fresno Wade Nogy extended condolences to Sandy Oldfield’s family and friends.

The people of Kaiser Permanente are mourning the loss of one of our colleagues, Sandy Oldfield, who recently passed away as a result of COVID-19 complications. Sandy was a longtime nurse at our Fresno Medical Center. We are so saddened, and share the grief and extend our condolences to Sandy’s family and friends on the loss of their loved one, whose professional life was dedicated to helping patients and families manage their medical needs. 

Sandy’s colleagues worked tirelessly for weeks to save her life. We are deeply grateful to our medical teams, staff, and employees who are expertly and compassionately caring for our members, patients, communities, and each other.

Sandy now joins the too many other front line health care heroes across the country who have succumbed to this disease, as it has spread through our communities. In Sandy’s case, in March she had exposure to a patient before the patient was suspected to have COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread in the Valley, we expect to see more individuals with suspected or confirmed cases at our medical center. As we continue to deliver needed care to our members and communities, the safety of our workforce and patients remains our highest priority.

Senior Vice President and Area Manager of Kaiser Permanente Fresno Wade Nogy

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