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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After nearly 40 years of service, a local nurse set to retire in just one week has died.

Officials have not confirmed her cause of her death as of Wednesday night, but a local nurses union says she died of the coronavirus, serving her patients. 

Celia Yap Banago worked as a registered nurse at Research Medical Center. National Nurses United said she died Tuesday after contracting the virus while caring for an infected patient in the hospital. 

Now her colleagues are planning a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Thursday night to remember her life. They said it will involve nurses from across the region. 

“Celia was an amazing nurse that dedicated her service for countless years at Research and a dear friend to all of us,” Research nurse Charlene Carter said in a statement from National Nurses United. 

Research Medical Center CEO Ashley McClellan shared the following statement with FOX4: 

“We are heartbroken by the passing of our colleague, Celia Yap-Banago, a nearly-40-year nursing veteran at Research Medical Center. It is difficult to put into words what Celia means to our hospital and to the countless number of patients she cared for.

“Celia was beloved by everyone who knew her. Her impact on the nursing profession and to those she worked, with will be everlasting due to the mentorship, training, support and guidance she provided our colleagues.”

“We offer our deepest sympathies to her family and friends, and all who she blessed along the way. We are reminded of the courage she — and our nursing family exhibit every day.”

According to National Nurses United, Banago had expressed concern over inadequate COVID-19 preparation at Research. 

Many Research nurses, along with nurses at HCA Midwest’s other hospitals, participated in protests earlier this month, arguing their facilities don’t have the equipment they need to safely handle the coronavirus. HCA Midwest denied those allegations.

“We honor the life and career of Celia who gave so much of herself for her patients,” NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement. “No nurse, no health care worker, should have to put their lives, their health, and their safety at risk for the failure of hospitals and our elected leaders to provide the protection they need to safely care for patients.”