UIC Medical Center nurse dies after contracting COVID-19, remembered for always taking care of others

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc was a natural at taking care of others.

The nurse at UIC Medical Center put her talents for thrifting and crafting to use, and always kept good stock of supplies other nurses needed.

Jessica Bertelson said that her sister was always willing to help people who needed equipment she had.

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Bertelson said Pacubas Le Blanc was the mother hen of the family and the eldest of five children. She jumped in to help another sibling who died last year of breast cancer.

Le Blanc became sick with COVID-19 earlier this month, but her family said that they were not sure how she contracted it because she worked in the neuroscience intensive care unit which does not treat coronavirus patients.

"She was a very hard worker, so she probably thought it was just her being tired," said Tenence Yee, president of the Illinois Nurses Association.

Bertelson said for a couple of weeks, Pacubas-Le Blanc had relatively mild symptoms until she wasn't able to breathe and died less than a day after being rushed to the hospital.

"A couple of days before she passed, she said, 'I'm feeling better.' I said, 'you don't sound better.'" Bertelson said. "She said, 'no, i feel a lot better.'"

Le Blanc's co-workers said her death highlights the need for more COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

"Everybody should be treated as through they have it to keep healthcare professionals safe so that we have all the PPE as though they were positive," said Eileen Fajardo-Furlin, Le Blanc's former co-worker.

The CEO of UIC Medical Center said they are profoundly saddened by Le Blanc's loss. The hospital also has implemented COVID-19 testing for all patients, and is providing N95 masks for all staff providing health care.
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