The first member of the Marie Curie nursing team to die after contracting coronavirus has been described as “a beautiful person” who had “an absolute passion” for her work.
Barbara Sage, 68, from Bromley in south London, died in intensive care last Sunday after spending more than 40 years working in palliative care.
She was a Marie Curie nurse for 14 years, providing vital care and support on the front line to dying patients in the community.
It was a real, deep pain for her family, that Barbara had been there to hold the hands of so many people as they had died, that they weren't able to be there to hold her hand as she diedMatthew Reed, Marie Curie
Matthew Reed, chief executive of Marie Curie, told BBC Breakfast: “Barbara was a beautiful person. She was kind, generous, giving, fun.
“Mother, of course, grandmother, aunt, partner, and our hearts just go out to her family and those who loved her the most.
“This is a tragic loss of a member of the Marie Curie family as well, and has hit the whole Marie Curie family really hard this week.
“It’s a very, very, very special kind of person who becomes a Marie Curie nurse or doctor. These people, every day and every night, being with families who are experiencing the loss of a loved one.
“Sitting with people who are dying, caring for them, loving them, holding their hand, holding their hand physically, caring for them, but also holding their hand emotionally, and after people have breathed their last, being there to hold the family and to care for them as well.
We know this is a worrying time. We have a new information hub on end of life care during #coronavirus and support on our website which you may find helpful: https://t.co/HChQlIpuwj pic.twitter.com/tGerD57CnC— Marie Curie (@mariecurieuk) April 16, 2020
“Barbara had an absolute passion for this work.
“It was a real, real deep, deep pain for her family, that Barbara had been there to hold the hands of so many people as they had died, that they weren’t able to be there to hold her hand as she died, and to hug her and to hold her and just be with her.
“And in due course we’ll try and find a way in which we can have a way to mark Barbara’s death with her family and with the whole organisation.
“Just holding people. It’s such an example of really what Marie Curie does every day and night and is sort of stepping up to do even more so at the moment in the Covid-19 emergency of trying to hold the nation, to be there, to hold the nation’s hand.”
He said it is not known whether Ms Sage contracted Covid-19 in the course of her work.