Local respiratory therapist working on COVID front line, loses dad to virus

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Working at the University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center, April Crespin’s job as a respiratory therapist is to help people breathe. Since March, that job has taken her to the front lines of the COVID pandemic.

“I have been a respiratory therapist since 2007 and I’ve been working in a COVID unit since March,” said Crespin. “We are trying our best to keep our COVID patients alive whether it’s with supportive therapies or intubating patients, managing ventilators.”

Last month, the virus became personal. Her dad, Leroy, started experiencing gastric symptoms and tested positive for the virus. After some time in the ICU, he was able to go home — until his symptoms got worse. “We were taking care of him, we were going to his house every day, helping him, and he looked pretty good. Just a few weeks ago, my dad started to have trouble breathing. We were really worried about it because it kind of came out of nowhere,” said Crespin. “We weren’t sure what was going on and I called EMS and my dad got admitted.”

He ended up back in the ICU at Presbyterian downtown. As things continued to go downhill, April and her family had to watch it all unfold over Facetime.”It’s been a horrific experience because the whole month of November, we were on this rollercoaster of knowing my dad had the diagnosis and seeing the progression of everything,” said Crespin. “He was struggling and that was very hard because I knew just from my experience working with COVID patients, what he was going through.”

The Army veteran was eventually intubated and after complications, passed away last week on Dec. 2. Known as a family man who loved riding his Harley, Crespin says she would do anything to have her dad back. “I wish people would take it serious before it hits too close to home,” said Crespin. “Losing my dad has probably been the biggest nightmare and I would hope people don’t have to experience that kind of loss before they actually believe it.”

Leroy’s three children are making his funeral arrangements. The family has made a GoFundMe to help with final expenses.

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