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Heartbreaking New York Times video gives inside look at Valley COVID-19 ICU

Death through a nurses eyes
Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 19:12:57-05

PHOENIX — A short film recently released by The New York Times chronicles several days last month inside a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Valleywise Health.

The 15-minute film, titled “Death, Through a Nurse’s Eyes,” was produced by the news organization’s opinion section and shows hospital staff working tirelessly to care for some of the most severe and at-risk patients, including 65-year-old Ana Maria Aragon.

Aragon’s family allowed her face to be shown in the film, which documented a priest reading her last rites over the phone, her family saying goodbye through video chat, and, ultimately, Aragon’s death after more than a month in the hospital.

“You saw the video, you hear our voices, but there’s many other families going through this every day,” Aragon’s son-in-law, Frank Munoz, told ABC15.

For more than 20 years, Munoz said Aragon worked as an administrator at Academia Del Pueblo elementary school, near 2nd Street and Durango in Phoenix.

“She helped everyone out,” he said. “Parents that were working and the kids that needed a ride… she would take them home or pick them up in the morning… she was always there for many parents.”

Munoz said while the video is painful for the family to watch, they hope it reminds people and brings awareness to the fact that COVID-19 “is real” and can affect anyone at any time.

Sara Reynolds, a nurse at Valleywise, is highlighted prominently in the film and shown holding Aragon’s hand during her passing. Reynolds described the immense work and emotional toll nurses have dealt with throughout the pandemic. She talked with ABC15 in January amid the holiday surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.

“Just to see the amount of people that don’t make it out, that’s hard,” Reynolds said at the time.

See the full New York Times film here.