Born: April 4, 1966
Died: April 1, 2020 Detroit, Michigan, USA
Profession: Registered Nurse
Juleen Miller remembers the last time she saw her friend Lisa Ewald, a nurse at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
It was three weeks ago, and they met at Secret Recipes Family Dining in Taylor for breakfast.
Miller had no way of knowing it would be the last time she’d ever see her high school friend again.
Lisa Ewald, left, celebrates a birthday with her mother, Marian Kraatz. Ewald had recently lost her mother. (Photo: Photo courtesy of the family)
Ewald died this week of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Miller said. This Saturday would have been her 54th birthday.
Henry Ford Health System President and CEO Wright Lassiter III confirmed on Friday the death of an employee.
“There are not adequate words to describe how saddened we are,” he said. “Our hearts ache for our employee’s family, friends and colleagues. As health care providers on the front lines of this pandemic, we know we are not immune to its traumatic effects.
“We continue to fight with every resource we have to protect our employees and provide the safest care to our patients. Because of patient privacy obligations, we cannot share additional information.”
Ewald lived in Dearborn and spent 20 years as a nurse at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, most recently working in post-surgery rehab. Her niece and nephew, Mandi and Micah Standifer of Shelby Township, said she was a jokester and “a nerd in the best way.”
She attended the Motor City Comic Con every year and loved Harry Potter books and Star Trek. She was an active, optimistic person with no known health problems, they said.
Lisa Ewald, left, and close friend Juleen Miller, right, pose with actor Andrew McCarthy at Rose City Comic Con in 2014. The pair were close friends, and Miller said Ewald’s death came with little warning just days before Ewald’s birthday. (Photo: Juleen Miller)
“It’s hard to believe this even happened, because she was so full of life,” said Micah Standifer, 35. “She’s the person you would expect to beat it.”
Ewald also loved to travel and was an active member of the Wayne County Republican Party. She and Miller became friends at Inter-City Baptist School in Allen Park, where they both went to school.
Miller said they stayed in touch over the years, and last week, they exchanged text messages about how the pandemic was adding a new element of danger to the nursing profession.
Ewald assured Miller that she was fine. Miller planned to text Ewald again this week to wish her a happy birthday.
But now, she’ll never get that chance.
“The worst part,” Miller said, “is that you can’t even really honor her with a funeral because of this stupid thing.”
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Ewald believed she was exposed to the virus after treating a patient who later tested positive, said Mandi Standifer, 32.
Ewald told her niece she was not wearing a mask and had asked to be tested, but hospital officials told her she couldn’t get a COVID-19 test until she began to experience symptoms of the disease.
Ewald learned Sunday that the illness she was experiencing was COVID-19, said Mandi Standifer. By Tuesday, she was dead. Ewald’s neighbors and a fellow Henry Ford nurse found Ewald lifeless in her living room Wednesday morning.
The Standifers said they can understand the unique complications posed by a viral pandemic that caught the whole country off guard. They can understand that personal protective equipment and test kits are in short-supply. Still, they said, it’s frustrating that Ewald was forced to wait so long for testing, and then was instructed to go home and wait out the illness on her own.
Lisa Ewald, left, poses for a picture with niece Mandi Standifer, center, and nephew Micah Standifer, left, at Motor City Comic Con in 2019. (Photo: Photo courtesy of the family)
“It’s just wrong,” Micah Standifer said. “You would think they would take care of their own.”
A nurse who believed she contracted COVID-19 while treating a patient at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit was found dead alone in her Michigan home just days after she was twice denied a coronavirus test because she did not show severe symptoms.
Lisa Ewald’s body was discovered inside her living room in Dearborn, Michigan, by a friend on Wednesday – just days before her 54th birthday.
Friends and family described Ewald as a happy and optimistic person who was known to have asthma.
Despite her underlying health condition, she was willing to risk her life to help others, according to her family.