To honor the lives of caregivers and patients who died from COVID-19, healthcare workers will hold a vigil and program on National COVID-19 Memorial Day at 5:30 p.m., Monday, March 7 in Los Angeles.
Friends and families of fallen healthcare workers and patients will speak about the lives of their loved ones. The program includes Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who lost his mother Gaby O’Donnell to complications from COVID-19. O’Donnell was a medical assistant in Southern California for more than 25 years.
Event organizers invite the public to take part and view “Forever Essential”, an installation consisting of seven towers with images and descriptions of the lives of dozens of healthcare workers.
SEIU-UHW invites the public to add the names of healthcare workers and loved ones who passed away from COVID to the online memorial at www.foreveressential.org.
This outdoor vigil starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 7 will feature live music, flower arrangements, speaking program, Wall of Remembrance, and presentation of the Forever Essential memorial in honor of hospital workers and patients who died from COVID-19. It will be staged at the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West Union Hall, 5480 Ferguson Drive in Los Angeles.
“The healthcare workers featured on the memorial are a fraction of those we’ve lost,” said Gabe Montoya, an emergency medical technician at Kaiser Permanente in Downey. “One of the most wrenching moments during this pandemic was when our coworkers became our patients. We want to give the community a space to process this enormous loss and remember the commitment and courage of healthcare workers who served on the frontlines.”
One of the healthcare workers honored in the Forever Essential memorial is Sally Lara, a phlebotomist from Riverside. Lara left retirement to care for coronavirus patients. After a weeks-long battle with COVID-19, she succumbed to the virus in June 2020.
“My mother lost her life in the pursuit of helping others,” said Vanessa Campos, Lara’s daughter. “She is not another number in the death toll. She is truly a hero.”