KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The family of Kansas City nurse who died from the coronavirus last month has filed a claim for death benefits.

Celia Yap-Banago had worked for almost 40 years as a nurse at Research Medical Center in Kansas City.

Celia Yap-Banago

Celia Yap-Banago with her husband of 34 years and her children. From left to right: Amado Banago, Joshua Banago, Celia Yap-Banago, and Jhulan Banago.

Her family, attorneys and the National United Nurses Union contend she died because she and other nurses at the hospital did not have adequate personal protective equipment while caring for patients with the coronavirus.

Under Missouri laws, if an employee’s death is caused by their job, worker’s compensation laws mandate that benefits are provided to their family. 

“Celia’s death is devastating,” said attorney Brent Welder who is representing the family. “Celia is a hero who went in to work every day to serve the public good. In response, she was refused life-saving PPE by her employer and contracted a fatal case of coronavirus. Healthcare workers like her are sacrificing their lives, and Celia’s family wants to ensure that our nation honors its responsibility to them and their families.”

Yap-Banago and another nurse cared for a patient with coronavirus on March 22 and 23.

However, according to her attorney, the hospital had removed adequate PPE from their unit a few days earlier. Both nurses asked their supervisors for PPE and voiced concerns for everyone in contact with the patient. Yet neither nurse was given proper PPE.

The patient died from coronavirus a few days later.

Yap-Banago immediately quarantined in her home. She began having coronavirus symptoms and, after battling the virus for almost a month, died on April 21.

The patient’s other nurse contracted coronavirus as well, though she recovered.

“It’s a terrifying time for healthcare workers,” said family attorney Kristie Welder. “They are heroes, yet their families could be emotionally and financially ruined. I certainly hope that Celia’s former employer, Research Medical Center, will do the right thing and honor the family by agreeing to a swift and just resolution of this case so the family can move on with their grieving process.”

The claim was filed Tuesday morning on behalf of Yap-Banago's husband of 34 years, Amado Banago, and her two sons, Jhulan and Joshua Banago.

“My mom put everyone before herself, all the time,” said Jhulan Banago. “If my mother’s death can result in more protection for all nurses everywhere, that will be very meaningful to our family.”

HCA Midwest, which operates Research Medical, sent KCTV5 News the following statement regarding the claim:

We are heartbroken by the passing of Celia Yap-Banago, a 40 year veteran nurse. It is difficult to put into words what Celia meant to our hospital and to the countless number of patients she cared for. Her impact on the nursing profession and to those whom she worked with will be everlasting due to the mentorship, training, support and guidance she provided our colleagues.  We offer our deepest sympathies to her family and friends, and all who she blessed along the way. We look forward to a swift resolution, working within the State of Missouri’s workers’ compensation system. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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