I Lost My Best Friend to Covid-19

Carly Ewald

A beloved nurse died after contracting the coronavirus. Her niece and best friend share her story.

Today, our Wake-Up Call newsletter is telling the story of Lisa Ewald, a devoted nurse, who was found dead after testing positive for Covid-19.

Lisa Ewald — who’d been working as a nurse for over twenty years — was known for lighting up the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“She was a big jokester,” her niece Carly Ewald told us. “She was always laughing and making other people laugh.”

In early March, Lisa came in contact with a patient who was experiencing chest pain. She was not wearing a mask at the time, although it is unclear why. The patient later tested positive for Covid-19. When Lisa found out she’d been exposed, she asked to get tested — but was denied because she had no symptoms. But she began developing symptoms later in the month.

Even though Lisa had been exposed, and had asthma, she was denied a test a second time. “They still denied her knowing that,” Carly told us. “That’s kind of why me and my family are pretty upset.”

Lisa was only able to get a test once she reported a loss of taste and sense of smell. At that point, her symptoms had worsened to a high fever, cough, and intense body aches. But according to Lisa’s friend, Jessica Toth, her condition remained “spotty.” She would have a fever. It would go away. But then it would come back.

Lisa found out she tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, March 30. She went home — to rest and self-quarantine. She and her neighbor were in close contact. They last heard from her on the night of Tuesday, March 31st.

When Lisa did not respond to texts the next day, a hospital employee and her neighbor conducted a wellness check. On April 1st, a little over 24 hours after the positive test result, they found Lisa dead… just a few days before her 54th birthday.

Her friend Jessica told us: “We’re still in shock. She didn’t deserve this. I last talked to her on March 24th, and then it was only a matter of about a week until she passed. It was very fast. My understanding is she was not instructed to go to the hospital or the ER. Personally, I think she might still be here [if she was.] She might’ve had a chance.”

Carly, Lisa’s niece, told us that she’s “angry.” She continued: “It’s important that there’s more testing available to people, and more support for people [on the front line] that have to deal with those who have it — because they can’t stay home. We need to have more respect for those nurses and doctors, but also need to make sure that they’re getting tested constantly. They should be getting masks and gloves, but they should also be getting their temperatures checked daily, and I know a few places are doing that.”

Lisa’s family is holding a virtual memorial service for her on April 8th. Jessica is reflecting on springs of the past — when she and Lisa would pick up flowers for their gardens. “Her middle name was Joy,” she told us. “And that really describes her as a person. I want something good to come of this. She would want to save lives. I mean, that’s why she chose to be a nurse.”

Our hearts are with Carly, Jessica and the rest of Lisa’s loved ones at this time.

This originally appeared on Medium.com