70-Year-Old Texas Nurse Iris Meda Came Out Of Retirement To Teach Then Died Of Covid-19

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Iris Meda
70-Year-Old Texas Nurse Iris Meda Came Out Of Retirement To Teach Then Died Of Covid-19. Photo Credit: GoFundMe

Nurse Iris Meda was excited to come out of retirement to teach nursing students at Collin College in Dallas, Texas. She felt it was a way she could give back and help battle covid-19 by preparing the next generation of health professionals. Instead, Meda died of complications from the virus after contracting it from a student.

“She felt like if she could gain momentum by teaching some of those basics, we could contain any virus,” Meda’s daughter, Selene Meda-Schlamel, told The Washington Post. “She wanted to do something that would make a difference.”

Meda retired from her position as a nursing clinic administrator with the North Texas Job Corps in January. A native of Charleston, S.C. who spent much of her life in New York, Meda overcame being a high school dropout to have a successful nursing career.

She wanted to offer encouragement to students who may have been having difficulty with their nursing courses.

“She understood that sometimes you need a little bit of encouragement and support, and that alone can open doors for people,” Meda-Schlamel said. “She wanted to be that person opening doors for others.”

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Meda joined the faculty at Collin to teach during the fall semester. On October 2, one of her students exhibited covid-19 symptoms and later tested positive for the virus. On Oct. 14, Meda tested positive after feeling ill for a couple of days.

She died Nov. 14 after spending nearly a month in the hospital. Meda-Schlamel said her mother knew the risk she was taking but felt compelled to do her part to serve during the pandemic.

Covid-19 cases have been surging again in the U.S. and across the globe. Many of its related deaths are from people with contributing conditions. However, there have been fatalities among people in good health before contracting the virus.

According to her daughter, the last words Iris Meda spoke were, “I’m going to fight. I’m New York strong.” Though she succumbed to heart failure after being intubated, Meda-Schlamel said her mother’s legacy will live on.

“For her, this was also a service to her country, being able to usher nursing assistants into the work field during a pandemic when they are most needed,” Meda-Schlamel said. “I hope that students realize the compromise that their teachers are putting themselves in and recognize that they are themselves heroes.”