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Vigil held in honor of devoted Oakland nurse who died of coronavirus

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – “I met Janine years ago. She was my preceptor who became my mentor, who became my friend, who became my second mother. She was an amazing woman,” Sharana Mahabir said.

In the East Bay, a vigil was held Tuesday to remember a devoted Oakland nurse who died of coronavirus after coworkers say she contracted it from the hospital she worked at.

Janine Paiste-Ponder was a nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland for decades and has been treating patients with COVID-19.

Paiste-Ponder was a part of the California Nurses Association for more than 25 years.

Unfortunately, these nurses are used to losing patients throughout this pandemic, but now they’re saying goodbye to one of their own.

Nurses here say that Paiste-Ponder’s death could have been avoided if they were given the proper PPE.

“She was amazing. She was amazing to her coworkers. She was amazing to the patients. She was amazing to the community. Everybody loved her, always had a smile on her face. Always bubbly and full of life,” said a coworker.

Coworkers, loved ones and the community remembering nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder who devoted her life to her patients for more than 25 years. 

“She would fight for her patients, her colleagues, her friends. She was a patient advocate who was compassionate and kind. I remember watching her with patients, how she gave everything she had and realized how brave she was and I remember she was who I wanted to be like. She was the kind of nurse you wished you had and the kind of nurse you wished you worked with,” Sharana Mahabir said.

Paiste-Ponder’s life was cut short on Friday when she died from the coronavirus.

Family and coworkers say she contracted the virus while treating patients at the hospital. They say her death could’ve been avoided.

“Went through a period where you had to reuse masks, reuse gowns. You were pretty much reusing everything and that was very dangerous because us nurses are used to using one time use and moving on to protect not only ourselves but the patients,” Michael Hill said.

Fellow nurses at Summit Medical Center held a vigil on Tuesday to honor their beloved coworker. 

They say it’s their duty to share her message, that the hospital isn’t protecting its employees.

“I have a question for Summit – who was there to protect Janine? Nurses can’t stay safe if we do not have optimal PPE. It’s unacceptable to the patients. It’s unacceptable to the community,” Paula Lyn said.

We reached out to Sutter Health about these accusations but have not heard back yet.

Paiste-Ponder leaves behind a husband and two children, who were not ready to speak on camera.

The nurses here are planning future events to continue their fight for that proper PPE.

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