Family Holds on to Faith Through Grief
A New York family holds on to faith despite losing a loved one to COVID-19; a respiratory therapist couple experience the surge firsthand in the Bay Area, Santa Clara County.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: This week on INC News World: hear from a family in New York City, still reeling from losing their father to COVID-19; and meet respiratory therapists from California explaining what they’ve witnessed on the frontlines. Your INC News World starts now.[VIDEO END]
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: Welcome to INC News World, I’m Brother Michael Guerrero coming to you from the San Francisco Bay area, praying that each of you watching from your own homes is staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it’s been proven over and over that the coronavirus does not discriminate when it comes to age, in New York City, the data has confirmed that the cohort with the highest death rate has been males over the age of 75. Regardless of age, the pain that the families feel is the same. Krystal Coronel was able to speak to one family that is still grieving the loss of someone dear to them.[VIDEO START]
KRYSTAL CORONEL: What can you tell us about Brother Robert Guerzon?
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): Oh man. Ah, Brother Robert, I am very honored to call my father.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: Robert Guerzon, Albert’s father, is a familiar face in the Church Of Christ in New York; one of the pioneering members, one of the first in the area. But the Guerzon family would soon, like so many in New York, fall victim to COVID-19.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: What happened when he got sick? Tell us about the hospitalization.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): I got called to come over, because no one else in that house could, because everyone was showing symptoms and my father was already weak. And so I ran over. And I actually saw my father on the floor.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: Albert and his family managed Robert’s symptoms best they could over a few days, but eventually called emergency services. As Albert helped him into the ambulance, he didn’t know he would never see his 81 year old father again.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): When we got word that my father wasn’t, may not make it and they actually told us, told my sister that they’d rather give a ventilator to someone who would have more quality years of life I called the hospital. And I was like, I know I’m not supposed to do this, but is there any way I can FaceTime with my father?
KRYSTAL CORONEL: It’s a moment we’ve seen repeated across the country, nurses giving the opportunity for loved ones to say goodbye one last time.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): And so there was this nice nurse who wasn’t supposed to do this. Her name was Rebecca and she called me and I was able to FaceTime with them. It was a beautiful moment because there were some things that were said that I’ve never said before. He was, forgive me for not being the most articulate at the moment. But he’s a good man. But sadly, this past Wednesday he passed due to COVID complications.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: As New York City is overwhelmed with their dead, the Guerzons, in addition to mourning Robert’s passing, have to follow all the new legal and industry standards.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: Can you tell us about the process that you guys have to go through?
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): We’re meeting at the funeral home and no one is allowed inside the funeral home. We’re basically meeting there to convoy to the cemetery. They’re only allowing 10 people on the plot and I’m told the funeral home and cops will monitor that social distancing and make sure there’s only 10, no exceptions.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: A virtual viewing was established, where the love for Robert started to pour in from every direction.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): The beautiful thing is people are posting their stories, and their funny memories, and their sad memories and inspiring ones, and these things like I’ve never even knew happened.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: But this family in Rockland, New York, as members of the Church Of Christ, is processing their grief the best way they know how: with their faith.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): My brother who is assigned in South New Jersey, he got us all on a family phone call, my brother led a family prayer. You know, and we all of course believe you know, God’s plan is better than our own.
ESTER GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): It’s sad, but at the same time we, you know, we all know that it’s God’s will and at the end of the day, we are just comforted to know that they’re no longer in pain.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): We are all grateful for his example of faith and even more grateful now that he is painless.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: One thing that keeps us connected with all the brethren, especially with all of the brethren that your father has touched, we all have the worship service. How is the worship service helping you during this time?
ESTER GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): We look forward to it even more. Especially when Dad passed away, we had worship service that night. Oh my goodness. It was very much needed, it was very comforting it was such a big hug coming from God. All the more I know, God is with us.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): I look forward to the hymn singing. I really feel like the verses are so relevant and it gives me…it’s been my rock because it’s been comfort. I think without it, the grieving process would be harder. But because of it when I hear verses about people in pain now have no more tears, or we will be together again, I know when I hear that we will be together again, we will be together again.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: As he did in life, Robert, as a head deacon in his local congregation for a generation, is leaving behind an example of a pure faith to be admired, and to be emulated; knowing that his duty in the Church will be what he brings with him to the grave, to die still in Christ is an honor and a gain.
ALBERT GUERZON (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): You know what, their work is done, their work is done. And I think, you know, the sort of comfort, yes, they’re painless, but also it’s like they’ve already done their work. Now it’s all of our turn.
KRYSTAL CORONEL: Members of the Church Of Christ are not exempt from the hardships of the world. But even in the saddest of times there has been a hope, a faith, and a promise that God will be the comfort of the many, many survivors. If you’d like to hear more stories coming out of New York on INC News World log on to incmedia.org. Krystal Coronel; Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network.[VIDEO END]
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: In the Bay Area, Santa Clara County has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, and[CONTINUED IN GRAPHICS] [GRAPHICS ON SCREEN]
by April, an estimated 48,000 and 81,000 people have tested positive.
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: We meet a couple, both respiratory therapists at the frontlines, who experienced the surge first hand. Michelle Peredo with the details.[VIDEO START]
MICHELLE PEREDO: Alongside the nurses and doctors on the frontlines are medical professionals like Charlotte; key workers in the ER, especially now during the pandemic.
CHARLOTTE NIRONA (FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): As everybody’s aware, COVID-19 is pretty much a respiratory issue, so now we’re kind of like in the limelight and are needed everywhere. Hand-in-hand, we’re a team with the nurses and the doctors. We take pretty much care of asthmatics and patients with breathing problems. If we’re on the floor, and it’s usually the breathing treatments or in the ER, then we’re in charge of that, and manages the ventilators.
MICHELLE PEREDO: And along with her husband, also a respiratory therapist, they are currently working in the Bay Area’s hardest hit hotspot.
MICHELLE PEREDO: You’re getting such an influx of all these different kinds of patients because of the pandemic. And from what I understand you’re in a hospital in San Jose, is that right?
CHARLOTTE NIRONA (RESPIRATORY THERAPIST – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): Where we work, Will and I are both there in Santa Clara county it’s gotten hit hard. And you can just imagine, the patient load that we had carried on for the last two months. It’s incredible. It’s double. I mean, we were both in a trauma center and being at ED [Emergency Department] the first it hit us in February, end of February. Our workload has just tripled. Like, in days, like within 24 hours, it’s just changed.
WILL NIRONA (RESPIRATORY THERAPIST – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): I work a lot on the floors and we actually have one floor dedicated for COVID patients. So on a normal non pandemic day, you go and see your patients, you know, no mask. Unless it’s in isolation. But now all the rooms are closed.
MICHELLE PEREDO: And with a great surge, they’ve experienced first hand just how drastic things can get.
CHARLOTTE NIRONA (RESPIRATORY THERAPIST – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): A lot of these patients are stable when they come in and give them two or three days, they go really south, really quick. And they go south right in front of your face. Families right now cannot visit and it’s just sad to witness all that and not have family there. That’s basically the downside of all this. We’re respiratory, we’’re the first person that they see when they’re distressed, we’re also the last person they see when that vent comes out. So, it’s real. I did have a breakdown a couple weeks ago, working with these patients five weeks, six weeks now. Like literally I would, sometimes I go to work at three in the morning to do 16 hour shifts, because we’re so short. But to see these patients, like you said, there is no discrimination. I have a 20 year old, who’s in the same room staying with a 60 year old, 40 year old male, no health issues.
WILL NIRONA (RESPIRATORY THERAPIST – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): A lot of people were fearful. They’re really scared, you know. “I don’t want to work with the COVID patients because I don’t want to get it,” or “I have an elderly parent at home,” or uncle or whatever. And as respiratory therapists, that’s the main thing right there. You know, you deal with the airborne, you deal with droplets. You have to work with it. You can’t say “Oh, I don’t want to work with that patient.” You can’t. You joined the medical field to help people so you have to expect some part of your medical life you’re going to get exposed to something contaminated.
MICHELLE PEREDO: And though it can be testing for any respiratory therapist during the pandemic, there is something that keeps them grounded every day.
MICHELLE PEREDO: Our faith is really, we really have to be called to be firm in it during these times. So I just want to ask, like, what is your prayer?
WILL NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): We pray everyday, we prayer for ourselves, for our family, and for any future situations where we might be in danger.
CHARLOTTE NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): I also include, because I do see this in the past couple days, and it’s prayers for my patients. Because I’ve had family members who are called a couple hours before they go and all they could do is stand by the window. And that is heartbreaking because either myself, the nurse, or the doctor is the last person who will ever be there at the last breath. And that’s heartbreaking because I, you know, I’ve had to pull tubes out for comfort care. We pray before we start, pray when we come home and thankfully with our girls as much as I work, you know, we’ve been working 12, 16, six days a week, seven days a week, and none of us have gotten sick. So we’re just thankful for that. You just got to keep going. And prayer puts that strength in me. And I’m like “Okay, let’s pray. We’ll get through another 12 hours,16 hours, come back tomorrow morning, start all over.” You just come home, thank God it’s another day you live through another day you live through another shift, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same, that you’re safe.
MICHELLE PEREDO: And that even during these times, they’re still able to fulfill what truly matters most to them.
CHARLOTTE NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): Even through all this you know, we’re still able to attend a worship service,
WILL NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): You know, we hear the lessons of faith, right? Where two or more are gathered, yes, we’re not in our chapel, but we’re gathered in prayer. God sees these things right? So He saw this coming and so allowed the Church to grow and mature and prepare. And we don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow or next year, but I’m sure the administration will be led by God and allow the members of the Church Of Christ all over the world to continue. The administration is doing their job as hard as they can, as best as they can in the conditions that’s being presented.
MICHELLE PEREDO: Though in most places, the peak of the pandemic has passed, there is still no telling how the virus will progress. And they hope that the community will continue to do their part.
WILL NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): If you have to go out of course everyone has to go out to buy groceries, gasoline, or whatever, but wear a mask, any mask, anything to to prevent your cough or sneeze spreading and receiving.
MICHELLE PEREDO: We continue to salute and pray for the many frontline workers that face this pandemic head on. And one of the greatest thanks we can give is to stay at home to help flatten the curve. To keep up with inspiring stories even during these times, log on to incmedia.org/incnewsworld. Michelle Peredo for the Iglesia Ni Cristo News Network.[VIDEO END] [VIDEO START]
BROTHER MICHAEL GUERRERO: In the continuation of this week’s episode of INC News World: the Church of Christ is declared a COVID hero on the island of Guam; a familiar face tells us why they decided to keep their children close, in spite of dangers; see how kids in Washington, D.C. are staying connected during stay-at-home orders. Stay tuned!