Nurse at Community Regional in Fresno dies from COVID-19 complications

Oliver Isleta's family is remembering him for his selflessness and the care he provided to patients up until his last days.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A nurse at the Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Fresno has died of COVID-19 complications, the hospital said on Thursday.

Oliver Isleta, a registered nurse in the CRMC Telemetry Unit passed away on Tuesday, the COO of Community Medical Centers said in a message to staff.

Isleta leaves behind a wife and son in the Philippines.

"We cannot tell who is going to get it. We cannot tell who is going to survive after they get infected," his sister, Marilou Tomambo, told Action News.

She said her 58-year-old brother had high blood pressure but was an otherwise healthy frontline hero at CRMC.

"He was really passionate about helping others," said nephew Juan Carlo Santamarina.

Isleta came to America in 2006 on a working visa to give his son and wife in the Philippines a better life. He was set to become a citizen this year and planned to have his family join him in the U.S. soon after.

But his health took a tragic turn. His sisters believe he became infected with coronavirus at work.

"He told me you need to take me to the ER because I am having a hard time breathing," said Tomambo.

He faced a months-long battle in the hospital with most of his family scattered in time zones around the world. His 13-year-old son and wife of 27 years were in the Philippines while his sisters were in Canada and Australia.

The family was grateful for video calls set up by Oliver's fellow CRMC coworkers - the only line of communication to him through his hospitalization.

"He was giving us a thumbs-up. So we were really hoping that he would get better soon," said Santamarina.

But despite ventilator treatment and medication, Isleta wasn't able to recover.

"I saw like fear in his eyes," Tomambo said through tears. "'s turned out worse."

Isleta died Tuesday due to complications brought on by COVID.

"I can't imagine what he went through," she said.

It's hard for his sisters to accept that Isleta took his last breath without loved ones by his side.

"I really was not expecting that when I took my brother to the ER, that was the last time that I am going to see him in person," said Tomambo. "I could have hugged him longer."

Now his sisters are remembering him for his selflessness and the care he provided to patients up until his last days.

"He was a very kind, gentle, and generous person," said sister Eleonor Santamarina.

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