SACRAMENTO, Calif. – To commemorate the lives of hundreds of California caregivers who died from COVID-19, healthcare workers will hold a vigil and unveil the Forever Essential memorial installation at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 2 on the West Side of the State Capitol building in Sacramento. Friends and family of fallen healthcare workers will also be present to speak about the lives of their loved ones.
Forever Essential is a physical and digital memorial honoring California healthcare workers who we’ve lost to COVID-19. The physical memorial consists of seven towers featuring images and descriptions of the lives of three dozen healthcare workers.
“Since the start of the pandemic, more than 460 healthcare workers, that we are aware of in California, have died from COVID-19,” said Dennis Anderson, a lab assistant at Mercy Hospital of Folsom. “The 36 healthcare workers featured on the Forever Essential memorial are but a fraction of those we’ve lost. One of the most wrenching moments on the frontlines against Covid was when our coworkers who served alongside us, became our patients. This memorial was created in hopes that it can help us all transform a bit of our private pain into public dignity and to carry forward the legacies of those we’ve lost.”
One of the healthcare workers honored in the Forever Essential memorial is Sally Lara, a phlebotomist from Riverside who came out of retirement to care for coronavirus patients. After a weeks-long battle with COVID-19, Lara succumbed to the virus in June 2020.
“My mother lost her life in the pursuit of helping others,” said Vanessa Campos, Lara’s daughter. “She is not another number in the death toll. She is truly a hero.”
Forever Essential will make stops in cities across California this summer, offering a space for communities to remember and grieve. SEIU-UHW invites the public to add the names of healthcare workers who passed away from COVID-19 to the online memorial at www.foreveressential.org.
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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is a healthcare justice union of more than 100,000 healthcare workers, patients, and healthcare activists united to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality care for all Californians, provided by valued and respected healthcare workers. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.