COVID-19 claims life of 27-year-old nurse, family mourns loss

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RAYMONDVILLE, Texas (KVEO) – Thursday was a quiet Thanksgiving Day for a Raymondville family mourning the loss of their 27-year-old daughter.  

Brittany Palomo was a nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. She died on Nov. 21 from COVID-19.  

Her stepfather, Robert Salinas, mother, Maria Palomo Salinas, two little sisters and little brother, friends and family honored her at the Good Shepard Funeral Home in Raymondville.  

Salinas and Palomo’s little sisters wore Chicago Cubs jerseys, while her mother and little brother wore T-shirts with her picture.  

Salinas says Palomo was a smart student but also loved sports and helped with his baseball team. “She was also my assistant coach, so people knew her besides Nurse Brittany, she was Coach Brittany as well,” he said.  

Those who knew her described her as an independent, fun and loving daughter. She was always eager to spend time with family and was close to her younger siblings and grandmother who also passed recently. 

Palomo had started her nursing career last December, just before the COVID-19 pandemic became serious in the Rio Grande Valley. She worked as an emergency room nurse.  

“She loved her job,” said Palomo Salinas. 

“No matter how stressful it was or how hard it was, she’d accomplish anything. I mean, she just pushed herself. She was very self-reliant,” added Salinas.  

Salinas says Brittany was ready to start her life; he had just finished helping her furnish an apartment in Harlingen that she moved into about a month ago.  

Not long after moving, her parents noticed changes in her energy levels. They attributed it to her long shifts at the hospital and very little sleep. 

Palomo Salinas says her daughter had taken a COVID-19 test and received a negative result. She got retested Nov. 16.  

“She was weak, and it didn’t seem like Brittany,” said Salinas.  

The family was confident she would bounce back, just like she did two years ago when she almost lost her life from complications caused by diabetic ketoacidosis.  

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Brittany called her mother to come over and help her take a bath because she was too weak. Her parents went over, and Brittany told them she had retested for COVID-19 and received a positive result. Salinas says that’s when they decided Brittany needed to go to the hospital.  

“I went to the car, I got her, and I go, ‘Baby, they’re not gonna let me go in with you. I wish I could be there with you,” Palomo Salinas recalled about her last interaction with her daughter outside the hospital. “I told her, baby, if you need something or whatever, you just need to call me, I’m right there in the parking lot, so they can call me.” 

No calls ever came. Palomo Salinas says she struggled to get updates from the hospital about her daughter’s condition. Hours after Brittany went in, the hospital let Palomo Salinas know what Brittany had gotten a room in the Intensive Care Unit. Palomo Salinas says she continued to struggle getting updates after that.  

On Friday, the doctor let Palomo Salinas know that Brittany’s heart stopped at 6:30 p.m. and she was resuscitated.  

Palomo Salinas was allowed to visit her and stayed with her for two hours. She says she left at 11:30 p.m. and around 1:30 a.m. she got a call saying Brittany was not going to make it through the night. 

They went to the hospital and witnessed the nurses trying to stabilize Brittany, but she did not make it.  

Brittany died at 2 a.m. that Saturday.  

“My heart just dropped, knowing that our daughter passed,” Salinas said.  

“It was just the Wednesday to that Friday. It was just so fast. So unexpected,” Salinas described about how quickly the virus took his daughter. “I thought she was gonna come out of it,” added Palomo Salinas.  

The family wants to use their experience to caution others.  

“It’s no joke. It’s no joke. I myself didn’t believe in it because working up north, we don’t wear masks in the drilling field. But here it’s different,” Salinas said.   

The family does not know where Brittany contracted COVID-19, but they do not think she got it from the hospital where she worked.  

The RGV Nurse Honor Guard held a ceremony at the funeral home today, honoring Brittany and relieving her of her duty as a nurse.  

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