Leroy Crespin, 72, lost his life to COVID-19 this month.

A local respiratory therapist has been fighting for months to help critically ill COVID-19 patients, and recently lost her father to the disease.
April Crespin has worked as a respiratory therapist for almost 14 years, six at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center.
“I’ve been working in the COVID unit since March, and it has been very difficult to witness the travesty in our community,” she said.
Hospital staff members in the Albuquerque area have been working a lot of overtime, Crespin said, trying to meet needs.
“We are just exhausted,” she said. “It feels like there’s no hope in sight.”
There’s no cure for the novel coronavirus, so medical workers use supportive therapies and even try experimental drugs to attempt to help patients.
“We’re doing our best to support them, and some days, it’s not enough,” she said.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers updated Thursday, just less than 1.9 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the U.S. this year have died. In New Mexico, 1.6 percent of people diagnosed with the disease have died, according to state Department of Health numbers.
As of Thursday afternoon, 1,846 New Mexicans had died of COVID, out of almost 115,000 diagnosed cases, according to the DOH. Nationally, the CDC reported almost 289,000 deaths in close to 15.3 million diagnosed cases as of the same day.
Those figures include patients whose COVID-19 cases haven’t been resolved, but not asymptomatic people whose cases went undetected.
Crespin’s 72-year-old father, Leroy Crespin, contracted COVID-19 at the beginning of November. The family isn’t sure where he encountered the virus.
His daughter said he’d been staying at home in Albuquerque, except for motorcycle cruises when he needed to get out of the house. He was worried about the virus to the point that he hesitated to spend time around his respiratory-therapist daughter because of her work with COVID patients, she said.
Crespin said her father initially had no respiratory problems, but the gastrointestinal symptoms were so severe that he had to be admitted to the intensive care unit for about a week. Those symptoms improved, and he was discharged.
Back at home, COVID started to take over, Crespin said, and her father developed respiratory distress. He was readmitted to the hospital Nov. 23 and died Dec. 2, two days after being put on a ventilator.
“He was one of the most kind, loving, generous men,” Crespin said. “He was a Christian who brought us up in church.”
Leroy Crespin was also an Army veteran, a father of three and a grandfather of six. His daughter said he had been very active and loved to ride his motorcycle, with his last cruise the week before he got sick.
“Don’t wait to take this virus seriously until it hits home,” April Crespin said. “…Protect yourself and your family. Socially distance.”
She said people should obey the public-health orders because they’re in place for a reason.
“I want to beg people, please just listen,” Crespin said.
And, she added, as her father would say, treasure your family because you never know when your time is coming.