Suzy Levi, a senior nurse at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, passed away on Sunday, April 26, after contracting COVID-19. She was the first medical staff member to fall victim to the pandemic in Israel. Levi, 65, was survived by a husband and two children. Israel's National Union of Nurses dedicated a minute of silence in her honor at hospitals across the country on Monday, April 27 at 11 a.m.

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Medical staff commemorating Suzy Levi (Photograph: Israel's National Union of Nurses)

Ilana Cohen, head of Israel's National Union of Nurses, commented on the heavy burden placed on Israel’s nurses at this time, in light of Levi’s passing: “This illustrates once more that nurses are on the front lines. Whatever the need, Suzy and her colleagues are there to answer the call. In the beginning they weren’t protected, they were told they didn’t need masks, yet today people are fined for not wearing masks. Medical teams should have shouted out that there was no protection. Within a system that has been neglected for years, they weren’t accounted for. Period."

"They act by virtue of their own dedication, work tirelessly," she added, and in return, when it is needed, they are sent into quarantine at the expense of their own vacation days. These nurses have been conscripted for war, and now they’re supposed to pay with their own vacation days?”

Ilana Cohen, head of Israel's National Union of Nurses.

Sinora Lugasi, deputy director of nursing at the Emergency Medical Center at the Kaplan hospital in Rehovot, eulogized her late colleague following the minute of silence in memory of Levi: "We embrace the family of the nurse Suzy Levi, may her memory be a blessing. We express our condolences to her family and her colleagues, and we hope that through these trying times of the coronavirus, we will reach the other side safely, and earth will rid itself of the pandemic."

Levi began to feel unwell more than a month ago. After her condition deteriorated, she was admitted to the hospital’s COVID-19 intensive care unit where she was put in an induced coma while on a ventilator. Approximately two weeks ago, her 71-year-old sister also passed away as a result of the virus. However, it is unlikely that Levi contracted the disease from her sister or from a patient in the ward.

Israel's National Union of Nurses dedicated words to her memory: "The union bows its head in marking the passing of the nurse Suzy Levi, who died while performing her duties, a victim of the coronavirus. Since the onset of the pandemic, she committed herself without hesitation to the non-stop work of the COVID-19 ward. We bow our heads in great pain and solemn appreciation for her fortitude and dedication to Israel’s COVID-19 patients."

A moment of silence in honor of Suzy Levi (Photograph: Israel's National Union of Nurses)

Her COVID-19 ward colleagues added, "She was an outstanding nurse, with a zest for life. Suzy was the backbone of the ward – warm and supportive, and always had a sympathetic ear for nurses and doctors who turned to her. A few words that capture the essence of Suzy's character: devotion and loyalty – they were her guiding principles. She was a person who had a love for humanity and a love for her patients, she was compassionate and kind. We, doctors and nurses, are devastated; Sheba has suffered a great loss, as has the system, and all of nursing."​

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Brought to press with the help of the International Relations Division of the Histadrut