Prea Nankieshore worked in the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Hospital Forest Hills in Queens, helping to register patients.
"We lost a dedicated mother with a heart of gold," fiance Marcus Khan said. "We lost a sister. We lost a friend. I lost the love of my life."
Unable to hold back tears, Khan tried to put into words the pain of losing his fiance, who died Sunday after losing a battle with the coronavirus.
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Khan said she loved her colleagues and her job and insisted on being there even as concerns about the virus escalated.
"She said, 'I can't leave the hospital understaffed. They're already flooded with patients. Doctors are working hard, and I can't leave them like that. I have to do my part,'" he said.
Then last week, the young mother of 8-year-old twins became a patient at the very hospital where she'd previously celebrated special moments with colleagues. Days later, she was dead.
Co-workers paid tribute to her in chalk on the sidewalk, promising to remember her always.
"Our team at LIJ Forest Hills is a family that now mourns the loss of one of its own," the hospital said in a statement. "But as we grieve, we will also persevere in caring for our patients with the grace and strength that Prea displayed day in and day out."
Even as Khan and the rest of Nankieshore's family struggle to come to grips with her death, they have a message for others.
"I just want everyone to take this seriously," Khan said. "This pain, this pain that me and her family are feeling right now, you don't want your loved ones to feel this pain."