Nurse COVID fatality will be missed by many whose lives she touched

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Marnette Penarubia Aggabao -- fondly known as "Bobbie" -- was more than just a casualty of the pandemic. She was a mother and a daughter, and as Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said, she is a person who will be missed by the many lives she has touched.

As COVID numbers rise, pleas from healthcare workers on the frontlines urge residents to stay home. Their message couldn’t be more heartfelt than ever as yesterday one of these heroes on the frontlines succumbed to complications of the coronavirus.

Marnette Penarubia Aggabao — fondly known as “Bobbie” — was more than just a casualty of the pandemic. She was a mother and a daughter, and as Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said, she is a person who will be missed by the many lives she has touched.

“She was also a registered nurse and a colleague who worked in the ICU and ER at GMH and dedicated her life to helping patients in our community,” the governor said in her news conference.

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Aggabao was on the frontlines of the pandemic working at the GMH. She lived her life helping others. A flood of emotion filled social media following the governor’s announcement that Aggabao was one of two patients who succumbed to complications arising from COVID-19. Bobbie was in her 60’s and suffered from underlying health issues which made it difficult to fight off the respiratory infection.

In a social media post, a close family friend recalls the last conversation she had with Aggabao who expressed her desire to want to continue to use her skills to care for COVID patients. The post reads, “laughingly she stated because of my age, the nurses are protecting me, transferred me to recovery room.”

Even after contracting COVID-19, a text message she wrote demonstrated how devoted she was to fighting the pandemic.

The message reads: “To My OR/PACU Family…I’m slowly recovering and hope to be on my feet again soon to work. God bless and keep safe and keep up the good work.”

Her health, however, took a turn for the worst. She was admitted to GMH on July 10th, and after over a month of battling the infection, she would not recover.

Throughout the pandemic, healthcare workers have urged the community to stay home. Their message: “We stay at work for you! Please stay at home for us!” This is a message meant to remind the community of the risk being taken by those on the front lines.

Aggabao is the first known essential worker and nurse on island to have succumbed to complications related to COVID. Her death has hit the health care community hard. PNC reached out to some of her colleagues who fondly remember her as “Ate”

Chad Ascura, a friend and colleague, said: “She was already a veteran nurse when I first started seven years ago. But my memory of her is based upon professionalism. She was very stern, she was very professional and was definitely a good person to work with. She was very understanding. If you were straight with her she was straight with you. And all we can say is may she rest in peace and thank you for your service to the people of Guam. You’re gone but you are not forgotten.”

With Aggabao’s passing, healthcare workers are once again asking the community to stay home and do their part in reducing the spread of infection…so that they too may go home to their families.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.