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COVID-19 claims life of Calgary health-care worker who friends say ‘died a hero’

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Another Alberta health-care worker on the front lines of the pandemic has died after contracting COVID-19. This comes one day after news that a Calgary long-term care worker lost his life because of the disease. As Jill Croteau reports, friends and family are still trying to cope with the shock of losing a beloved friend and father – Jan 5, 2021

Joe Marie Corral, who friends affectionately called “Jing”, lost his battle with COVID-19 last week.

Ephraim Tiangha, a colleague and friend of the 61-year-old long-term care worker, said Corral was incredibly devoted to the residents he cared for.

Read more: Alberta health-care worker dies of COVID-19

“He never stopped. He said, ‘if I would stop, who will take care of the residents?’ He pushed himself to his limits,” Tiangha said. “We have an oath that we have to take care of a person in need, so for Joe, that’s why he’s a hero.”

“He has a big heart, it’s hard to accept a person that you love so much is gone.”

Tiangha and Joe Corral. Courtesy: Ephraim Tiangha

“It’s hard for me too because I don’t have my friend to talk to every day and at work,” Tiangha said.

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Corral rented the basement at Tiangha’s family home in Calgary.

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“It’s very lonely because in our table he has his own chair, just for him,” Tiangha said.

Corral with Tiangha’s family. Courtesy: Ephraim Tiangha

The two friends worked together at Bethany Riverview care home in the dementia ward.  Tiangha said Corral tested positive on Dec. 20 and complained about difficulty breathing almost a week later.

“I asked him if he was okay and he said he could manage it, but I didn’t sleep. I have a feeling that something happened.”

Joe Corral.
Joe Corral. Courtesy: Ephraim Tiangha

In the afternoon of Dec. 28, Tiangha discovered Corral lying in his bed, unconscious.

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“It was too late. Every time I go to bed and close my eyes I see him. It’s hard.”

Corral leaves behind a son and daughter who hope to plan a virtual celebration of life in the coming days. A Gofundme has been set up to support his family.

Corral with friends.
Corral with friends. Courtesy: Ephraim Tiangha

Friends say Corral was a healthy man who didn’t have any serious health issues.

“Please don’t take this virus for granted. It will hit you, it’s no joke.”

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