Huge outpouring of tributes to hospital nurse who died of Covid-19

Estrella Catalan

NNUH staff nurse Estrella Catalan died on Friday evening from coronavirus. - Credit: JustGiving

There has been an outpouring of grief following the death of a "hugely loved" hospital nurse who died after contracting Covid-19.

Estrella Catalan, who worked as a staff nurse in the emergency department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), lost her battle with the virus on Friday evening.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

Estrella Catala worked as a staff nurse in the emergency department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) - Credit: Nick Butcher

NNUH chief executive Sam Higginson paid tribute to a "hugely respected, loved and dedicated member of the team".

She had worked at the hospital for more than 18 years. 

News of Mrs Catalan's death has triggered an overwhelming reaction from both members of the public and those who knew her.

By Sunday afternoon, a pair of online fundraisers had already generated a combined total of more than £39,000 for her family, from almost 2,500 donors.

A GoFundMe page has raised £24,000 while a JustGiving collection has amassed around £15,000 in donations. 

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, an NHS senior intensive care registrar, said: "Sleep well Estrella, we owe you more than we can ever repay."

And the EDP's Facebook page was flooded with comments from well-wishers, shocked at the loss of a frontline hero.

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Katherine Peake wrote "RIP Estrella it was a pleasure to know you and work with you", while Barry Ward called her "one of the most caring and happiest nurses I have ever known".

Tristan Johnson said: "Rest in peace dear Estrella. Such a fabulous, caring and compassionate lady who always greeted you with a smile."

Kathryn Edmonds added: "Another colleague lost in battle. Deepest condolences to all her friends and family. We will remember each and every one."

Chris David went on to call Mrs Catalan and her NHS colleagues "an utter inspiration". 

Just a month ago, the 52-year-old mother gave an emotional interview to the BBC from her hospital bed and described feeling "helpless" as colleagues came to her aid.

Breathless and speaking through tears, she said: ""I want to help. But I don't know when.

"I don't mind working and doing even extra shifts to help the trust, but I'm here as a patient. I'm helpless."

Mrs Catalan joined the Norwich-based trust in September 2002 and worked as a staff nurse on the Gunthorpe and Heydon wards, before later moving to the emergency room. 

She was also an important member of the acute stroke team. 

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Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, has paid tribute to Estrella Catalan - Credit: Archant

Paying homage to Mrs Catalan, Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North said her death was a reminder of the selfless efforts showcased by health workers throughout the pandemic.

"My thoughts are with Estrella's family," she added.

"I know her colleagues will be devastated too, and we should all reflect on the burden that the fantastic staff have been carrying.

"It's also a reminder to still do what we need to do to reduce transmission of the virus to save lives."

In his tribute on behalf of the trust, hospital boss Mr Higginson pledged to create a lasting memorial in honour of a beloved friend and colleague. 

Sam Higginson, chief executive at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, has apologised for the ca

Sam Higginson, chief executive at NNUH, has paid tribute to a "wonderful person" - Credit: NNUH

“Our deepest and heartfelt condolences are with Estrella’s loved ones and friends at this very difficult time, and with all those who worked alongside and knew her," he said. 

“She was a wonderful person and a caring and conscientious nurse, who loved to teach and mentor students; she will be terribly missed.

“We know this will be a huge shock to our staff and, over the coming days and weeks, we will formulate a fitting memorial to Estrella in collaboration with her family, friends and colleagues."

Meanwhile, Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said he was fighting alongside fellow politicians to ensure frontline heroes get the recognition they deserve once the pandemic has passed.

MP Clive Lewis. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, was among those to pay tribute to Estrella Catalan - Credit: Archant

"My thoughts and heartfelt condolences go to Estrella’s friends, family and a colleagues," added Mr Lewis.

"She was clearly a loved and respected figure who’d dedicated decades of her life to helping others here across Norfolk and Norwich.

"Her death is also a stark reminder of the very real danger still faced by our frontline NHS staff.

“I’ve been working with others in parliament to ensure the dedication and sacrifice made by key workers, especially NHS staff, is remembered in the form of a permanent public memorial.

"That, of course, is no substitute for a sufficiently resourced NHS and well-paid staff.”

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