Twenty patients and 15 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton, in a July 8, 2020 story. (File photo)

‘Kind of hero:’ Calgary care aide who died of COVID-19 passionate about his job

CALGARY — Ephraim Tiangha says there’s been a painful absence in his home since his best friend, a health-care aide at a long-term care centre, died from COVID-19.

Tiangha dreads another void that awaits him when he returns to work later this month at Calgary’s Bethany Riverview, where he worked alongside Joe Marie (Jing) Corral in the same dementia unit.

“There is emptiness in the house,” he said. “In the workplace, there will be emptiness because we work together as a team.”

Tiangha and Corral, whose families are from the same area of the Philippines, became friends in 2014 through work.

Two years later, Corral moved into the basement of the house where Tiangha lives with his wife and two daughters.

Despite the age difference — Corral was 61 and Tiangha is 45 — the two men became best friends. Tiangha said he feels like he has lost a family member.

The province said earlier this week that Corral was the first Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19. And the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta had confirmed that Corral acquired the virus from work.

Corral leaves behind a daughter in British Columbia and a son in Edmonton. A GoFundMe page has been set up to support his family and, as of Friday afternoon, it had raised more than $10,000.

Tiangha said his friend was quiet, but his jokes could unleash torrents of laughter. And when he gave love, it was unconditional.

“He was a genuine kind of friend.”

Corral was also passionate about his job and took the time to get to know each resident so he could tailor his care, said Tiangha.

When the novel coronavirus spread in his unit, Corral was undeterred.

“Even though he was scared, he didn’t stop working and taking care of the residents,” said Tiangha. “That’s the kind of hero he is.”

Tiangha said Corral tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 20 and for several days he was at home with mild symptoms. But within a week, he lost his sense of taste and had trouble breathing.

Tiangha told Corral to let him know if he needed to go to the hospital, but his friend said he was managing.

Tiangha texted and knocked on Corral’s door to check on him on Dec. 28. There was no response.

Because his wife is on dialysis and is immunocompromised, Tiangha knew he could not enter Corral’s room without wearing full personal protective equipment. He picked some up from a friend, got suited up and went inside.

Tiangha said he tried to wake his friend up, but Corral was unresponsive. Tiangha yelled to his wife to call 911 and the operator said to start chest compressions.

When paramedics arrived, they said Corral had been dead for hours.

“Every time I close my eyes, I remember the day I found him,” said Tiangha. He said he has had trouble sleeping and his employer has offered counselling.

“I’m trying to push myself to accept everything,” said Tiangha, who expects to return to work Jan. 18. “I don’t think he wants me to be like this, to feel depressed and to feel alone.”

Tiangha and his immediate family did not catch the virus, but another tenant in the basement did.

The province has said a second health-care worker also recently died of COVID-19 — a woman in her 50s, whose name and occupation have not been released.

On Thursday, the province said a physician in the Calgary zone had also died after contracting COVID-19, but he did not catch it at work.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP have charged a Sylvan Lake man for allegedly defrauding five people of more than $100,000.
Advocate file photo
20-year-old woman killed in collision: Blackfalds RCMP

A 20-year-old woman was killed in a collision on Saturday, says Blackfalds… Continue reading

Patrick Malkin, co-owner of The Granary Kitchen, says he wants the provincial government to lift COVID-19 restrictions that shutdown in-person dining. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer restaurant owner ‘frustrated’ in-person dining restrictions are still in place

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the restrictions won’t yet be eased this past Thursday

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month. Rentals.ca… Continue reading

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site… Continue reading

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Taxpayers’ watchdog sees complaints spike, raising worries about pandemic tax season

OTTAWA — Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep… Continue reading

Wet'suwet'en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

Tensions had reached a boiling point over a natural gas pipeline in… Continue reading

An Uber driver's vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

VANCOUVER — Several Metro Vancouver taxi companies have lost a court bid… Continue reading

Lights on an internet switch illuminate a network cable in an office in Ottawa, Thursday, February 10, 2011. A Federal Court is ordering Canada's internet service providers to block websites for a company that's offering pirated television streaming online. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Deeply disturbing:’ Nunavut internet still slower, more costly than rest of country

IQALUIT, Nunavut — In Nunavut, it’s not unusual for the internet to… Continue reading

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Most Read