A selfless New York City-educated nurse who came out of retirement to help train aspiring front-line workers amid COVID-19 has died of the coronavirus, family and friends say.
Iris Meda — a City College of New York graduate who retired as a nurse in Texas at age 70 in January — decided she needed to do her part in the pandemic and began teaching high-school students eying healthcare careers in September, according to kin and pals.
“One of the reasons she wanted to be an educator, specifically in nursing at this time, the reason she came out of retirement to pursue it was because of the pandemic,” Meda’s daughter, Selene Meda-Schlamel, told the NBC affiliate KXAS-TV in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“She wanted to train other frontline workers to help in this crisis.”
Meda, a South Carolina native, began teaching “Nursing Skills for Collin College at Anna High School and Allen High School,’’ said a GoFundMe page set up for the mom of two’s family.
“She would say how she could pick out the [students] who were struggling and she would stay after with them and give them a helping hand because she had received so much encouragement in her life,” her daughter told KXAS of her mom.
Meda ended up “contract[ing] Covid-19 in her classroom,’’ the GoFundMe posting said. “She tested positive on October 14th, 2020 and was hospitalized by October 17th, 2020.”
Meda’s students deluged her with cards and messages as she lay dying. She was eventually put on a ventilator and passed away, with her daughter and 75-year-old husband dressed in PPE by her side, KXAS said.
“Iris transitioned to heaven on November 14th, 2020, exactly one month after testing positive,” said the GoFundMe posting, which featured a photo of Meda in a sunlit back yard.
Meda’s daughter said her mom died “doing what she loved.
“Despite the risks, she was living life to the fullest, on her own terms at the time, trying to prepare future nurses for this country,’’ Meda-Schlamel told KXAS.
“Just to see this amazing, vivacious woman … so willing to put her life on the line to help others so they could then help others, to see her languishing there — it was such a tragedy,’’ her daughter said.
Meda had always been a survivor through life, friends said.
She was a high-school dropout who got her GED and college diploma as well as nursing degree. She lost her other daughter, Tanya, to cancer in 2013, according to the GoFundMe.