- Nurse Elaine McRae volunteered to work at the COVID-19 unit of Gulfport Memorial Hospital.
- She had an underlying condition, high blood pressure, but was taking a medication to control it.
- She died 72 days later of complications from the coronavirus at the unit where she worked.
Elaine McRae has been a nurse for 20 years in Mississippi. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, she volunteered to be assigned to the COVID-19 unit at the Gulfport Memorial Hospital. On November 5, she died of complications from the dreaded disease.
Her eldest daughter, Allyson Nulta, says, “She really thought she could do some good, and she did. She helped a lot of people. We, of course, were proud of her. She’s an amazing woman and she has so many gifts to share. And this is something she felt strongly about.”
McRae had an underlying condition of high blood pressure but was taking medications to control it. Her battle with COVID-19 started in August with loss of appetite, followed by a fever. She warned her daughter Monica Erwin to avoid going to her room.
McRae always cautioned her children against getting sick. For at least 10 years, she would wear gloves to pump gas, would not allow her kids to share drinks, and kept hand sanitizers all throughout her home.
After a week of her being sick at home, McRae’s oxygen levels dropped by 63 percent and she had trouble breathing. They brought her to the hospital where she worked and was put on a ventilator at its COVID-19 intensive care unit. In time, she tested negative for the coronavirus and was transferred to a regular ICU. But the virus destroyed her lungs. She had to be put on a waiting list for a lung transplant.
Her children were able to visit her. Erwin said, “We thought she was going to make it. And then she didn’t.”
Erwin was inspired by her mom’s work as a nurse and fortunately, McRae was still able to know she passed the board exam and saw her license before she passed away.
She was taken care of by her colleagues at the hospital for 72 days.
Last November 13, family and friends held a graveside service for McRae.
Her obituary reads: “She was an honest-to-God Hero, and fiercely loved her family. To say she will be missed is a great understatement. We pray our hearts will mend from this tragic, inconceivable loss.”
McRae’s son, Brandon Mizell, says of COVID-19, “It’s not a hoax. It’s very real.”
As for her mother’s death, Nulta says, “It still doesn’t feel real.”