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Nursing assistant at Rancho Bernardo senior care center battling coronavirus

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 23:49:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A nursing assistant at a Rancho Bernardo senior care facility is battling for her life, diagnosed with COVID-19.

In terms of coronavirus, Villa Rancho Bernardo care center is among the hardest-hit senior care facilities in the county.

In early May, Lani says her sister, Irene Branch, a longtime nursing assistant there, told her about all the sick calls, and repeated her insistence to keep working.

"She always has a big heart. If they are short, she always go to work," said Lani.

Around the same time, Branch started to feel sick.

"Coughing a little bit, no appetite and a short fever," said Lani.

Her symptoms quickly got worse and a few days later, Lani got a frightening call from her sister.

"She had shortness of breath, so I told her to call 911," said Lani.

She did, and a day later in the ICU, Branch was on a ventilator.

She received donated plasma containing COVID-19 antibodies, but her condition has deteriorated. Kidney failure has led to ongoing dialysis.

"I pray. Our family is praying a lot. Every one is praying for her," said Lani.

Lani says doctors recently removed her from a medically induced coma, but she remains comatose.

"She can't wake up. That's the problem. She's not waking up ... It's hard. I can't accept it right now," said Lani.

Unable to visit her sister because of COVID-19 restrictions, Lani recently talked to Branch via Facetime while a hospital worker held up a phone.

"Telling her we are here to support her. Letting her know we are not abandoning her ... I am very hopeful. I will not give up," said Lani.

According to the latest state numbers, 45 residents and 30 staff members at Villa Rancho Bernardo have tested positive for COVID-19.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help with medical expenses.