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.

Just Posted

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read