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Dedicated Las Vegas nurse with ‘big heart’ killed by COVID-19 at 39

Updated August 19, 2020 - 6:55 pm

Vincent DeJesus came from a family of health care workers.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when he decided to become a nurse. His father was a doctor, his mother was a nurse, and others in his family were also in the medical field, according to his older brother, Neil.

“It is in our blood,” he said.

Vincent DeJesus, 39, died Saturday of COVID-19 at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he worked as a registered nurse. His family declined to discuss his fight against the virus but said his personality made him a good nurse.

“He had a big heart. He’s the most selfless person I know,” Neil DeJesus said.

SEIU Local 1107 is advocating for strong worker protections and aggressive testing and is seeking data from Nevada hospitals showing how many employees have tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The union represents more than 9,000 nurses and other hospital workers, including those at Sunrise.

“We are all grieving the loss of Vincent DeJesus right now,” Executive Director Grace Vergara-Mactal said in a statement. “So many nurses during this time of crisis have sacrificed so much to keep us all safe and healthy, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

“As a union, we have been clear that we must not tolerate employers that fail to protect our nurses and other essential health care workers during this pandemic.”

“Our union has also called on Gov. (Steve) Sisolak and OSHA to intervene and to mandate that hospitals go above and beyond the minimum standards set by the CDC,” she continued. “Our health care heroes must be protected; any loss of life is unacceptable.”

In a statement later issued to the paper, a Sunrise official said DeJesus worked at the hospital for over two years and was new to the profession.

“On behalf of all of us at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center and Sunrise Children’s Hospital, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Vincent DeJesus’ family at this most difficult time. We are devastated by the loss of one of our own Sunrise family members,” according to a statement from CEO Todd Sklamberg. “Nursing was his life’s calling – he was deeply compassionate and dedicated to caring and healing others. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, our Sunrise family, as well as to his friends and extended family in the Las Vegas community.”

A representative from HCA Healthcare, which includes Sunrise in its network of hospitals, declined to comment, citing federal health care privacy protections.

Described as selfless

While Vincent DeJesus was working at the hospital and caring for coronavirus patients, he was careful to ensure he didn’t spread it to his 69-year-old mother, who lived with him.

“They had their own system of cleaning when it came to the house. They kept everything sanitized,” Neil DeJesus said. When Vincent DeJesus fell ill with COVID-19, he and his mother kept to the bedrooms farthest apart in the house.

His mother would leave food outside his bedroom door and switched to using disposable silverware for her son. As a former nurse, she used her own personal protective equipment around the house.

The method worked, Neil DeJesus said. She was tested for the virus three times following her son’s diagnosis and was negative each time.

Neil DeJesus said his brother cared for his father until he died about five years ago. That work inspired him to become a nurse. Since then, he had been keeping on eye on his mom.

“One of his last texts was to make sure someone was taking care of my mom,” DeJesus said. “We told him to take care of your health. But that was Vince — he makes sure people are cared for before he cares for himself.”

His best friend, Brandon Rogers, said Vincent DeJesus helped him immensely when he was fighting cancer.

‘There through everything’

“He was there through everything. He would take me to doctor appointments and therapy, he would get me food and he would come over and sit on my coach and be there with me,” Rogers said.

Rogers beat cancer and recently asked Vincent if he wanted to accompany him for his oncology results. Vincent told him he couldn’t.

“He texted ‘I can’t. I got the COVID… I’m sorry bro but I wish you luck. You got this,’ ” Rogers said.

“Who apologizes for that? That says everything because he thinks about everyone first,” Rogers continued. “He put his family and friends before him always.”

Vince DeJesus graduated from Las Vegas High School in 2000 and considered the city his home after arriving in his freshman year of high school.

Since his death, his family has heard many stories about all he has done to help people. He pushed his friends to do better, would give rides, and most of all he would listen, his brother said.

“He never talked about any of that stuff,” Neil DeJesus said. “The biggest thing for us is honoring his legacy.”

“They say the good ones are the first ones to leave,” he added.

Editor’s note: A statement from Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center was added to this story after it was initially published.

Contact Alex Chhith at achhith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0290. Follow @alexchhith on Twitter.

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