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Family Of Research Medical Center Nurse Who Died Of COVID-19 Settles Case Against Hospital

Celia Yap-Banago  with her husband, Amado Bango (left), and two sons, Joshua and Jhulan.
Yap-Banago family
Celia Yap-Banago with her husband, Amado Bango (left), and two sons, Joshua and Jhulan.

The family of a registered nurse at Research Medical Center who died after contracting COVID-19 has settled its workers’ compensation claim against the hospital.

Terms of the settlement were confidential, but a lawyer for Celia Yap-Banago’s family said they were pleased with the outcome.

“There was a confidential settlement of the coronavirus workers’ compensation death case, and the case has been resolved to the satisfaction of all the parties,” the lawyer, Brent Welder, said.

Christine Hamele, a spokeswoman for HCA Healthcare, the hospital’s parent company, said, "It is difficult to put into words what Celia meant to our hospital and to the countless number of patients she cared for over the years. 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."

Yap-Banago died on April 21 after caring for a patient who was later diagnosed with COVID-19. On the day after her death, a fellow nurse told KCUR that she and Yap-Banago had worked without N95 respiratory masks or other personal protective equipment.

Yap-Banago, who was 69, told colleagues she was planning to retire this year after working as a nurse for nearly four decades.

Her husband and two sons sought death benefits under Missouri’s workers’ compensation law. Under that law, survivors of an employee who dies as a result of a work-related injury are entitled to two-thirds of the employee’s weekly wage.

In this case, her husband, Amado Banago, would be entitled to such benefits for the rest of his life or until he remarries.

Although Missouri enacted an emergency rule in April allowing firefighters, police and other first responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantined because of the disease, the rule did not cover hospital workers.

That means hospital workers have to show it is more likely than not that they contracted COVID-19 in connection with their work.

Known as “Chil” to her friends and family, Celia Yap-Banago was the youngest of seven children. She was born in the Philippines and received her nursing degree there.

She died just days short of her 40th anniversary working as a nurse at various hospitals operated by HCA, the largest private operator of hospitals in the United States.

She and her husband had been married for 34 years.

Research Medical Center is a Level I Trauma Center and has been designated a hub for COVID-19 care by HCA, which also operates Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and other hospitals in the Kansas City area.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.