Loved ones pay tribute to 1st NYC public hospital nurse to die from COVID

Family and friends remembered Freda Ocran, the first New York City public hospital nurse to die from COVID-19.

Video Transcript

JOE TORRES: Now to the latest on the Coronavirus pandemic. In the five Boroughs, the positivity rate stands at more than 5%. City leaders reported 3,340 new COVID cases and 253 new hospitalizations. In the Bronx, family and friends paid tribute to one of the first nurses to die from COVID, Freda Ocran was a wife and mother of three. She worked at Jacobi Medical Center. She passed away at the age of 51, one year ago today. Loved ones say Ocran was fully devoted to her patients. Eyewitness News Reporter Kemberly Richardson joins us from Morris Park. Kemberly.

KEMBERLY RICHARDSON: Well, Joe, the cornerstone that helps everyone here, friends say Freya Ocran was a champion who believed the work here, to overcome the hospital was God's work. And so, when she started feeling sick last March, she didn't walk away from the virus. She walked into the flames.

Friends say Freda Ocran was like a giant splash in a pond that sent ripples throughout everyone's lives at Jacobi Medical Center. She was head nurse here in the psychiatric unit, but last March is COVID-19 barreled into our area, she refused to stay home. Posted this picture, she was proud to be a health care worker. Eight days later, on March 28th, her husband Joseph got a call from doctors.

JOSEPH OCRAN: The call came from Lincoln, said unfortunately your wife Freda passed.

KEMBERLY RICHARDSON: Freda was the first nurse to die from COVID-19 in a New York City public hospital. And now, on the one-year anniversary of her passing, colleagues remembered how much of a champion she was.

FLANDERSIA JONES: We should not be standing here today, mourning a life, somebody that gave up herself, somebody that took care of patients, just because of lack of PPE.

KEMBERLY RICHARDSON: Joseph came to the US from Ghana in 1988, saved money, and soon Frieda joined him. She received her degree in 2004, all while raising three kids, who say she was relentless in a positive, life-affirming way.

KWAME K. OCRAN: Like heroes, they have their own catchphrases, my mom was like-- don't you know, I'm the queen? Like heroes, she had a hero's flaw in that she cared too much.

KEMBERLY RICHARDSON: The center of many worlds, a leader with a powerful army of supporters, Freda was just 51 years old when she died.

KWAME A. OCRAN: She was everyone's mother, friend, protector, and that's why we've gathered here today. This here this, here today, this is her legacy.

KEMBERLY RICHARDSON: And the day after Freda passed, staff here at the hospital held one of the first protests, demanding more PPE. They tell me they have no doubt, had she been feeling better, she would have been here. For now, we're live in the Bronx, Kemberly Richardson, Channel 7, Eyewitness News.