Sophie Fagan and Michael Allieu: Two more Homerton Hospital workers die after contracting coronavirus

Homerton nurse Michael Allieu, who has died after contracting coronavirus. Picture: @NursingNotesUK

Homerton nurse Michael Allieu, who has died after contracting coronavirus. Picture: @NursingNotesUK - Credit: Archant

A 78-year-old Homerton Hospital support worker who “refused to retire” is one of two staff members to die over the weekend after contracting coronavirus.

Sophie Fagan, front row second left, arrived from India in 1961 to begin her nurse training. She has

Sophie Fagan, front row second left, arrived from India in 1961 to begin her nurse training. She has died aged 78 after contracting coronavirus. Picture: Homerton Hospital - Credit: Archant

Sophie Fagan, who arrived from India in 1961 aged 16 to begin her nurse training, died on Sunday morning in the hospital she had spent years working in. She was not on the frontline fighting coronavirus but still worked at the Homerton liaising with people in her role supporting carers. She had worked in healthcare in Hackney for more than 50 years.

The previous day acute care nurse and “larger than life character” Michael Allieu, 53, died after contracting the virus. He had worked in the acute care unit since 2007.

The Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said Sophie was “part of the healthcare fabric in Hackney” and Michael was a “member of the Homerton family”.

CEO Tracey Fletcher said: “Sophie Fagan was an extraordinary woman and well known across the Homerton site and indeed Hackney for over 50 years.

“Sophie was 78 when she died and still working. She refused to fully retire and although she did reduce her hours she was often to be found meeting relatives and supporting staff in the hospital when she wasn’t due to be. Sophie wanted to make a difference and caring for the elderly was her passion.

“Given her energy, enthusiasm and the fact that she was seemingly ever present on the site, it is hard to believe she qualified as an enrolled nurse in the Eastern Hospital, Hackney in 1966.”

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Sophie worked as a community nurse at the Eastern until 1981, when she moved to St Leonard’s Hospital day unit. She worked as the day unit organiser at City and Hackney Community Services before transferring to the Homerton in 1998, first as a discharge liaison officer and then as a carers support specialist, a role she held until her death.

Ms Fletcher added: “Her taste for the brightest and most colourful jumpers, her elegance and her ability to talk to everyone and anyone made her stand out in the hospital corridors.

“She was a passionate advocate for the patient and their relatives, exercising influence throughout the discharge process, including advocating for patients’ ongoing care needs to the extent that she often pushed at the boundaries in these discussions on behalf of the patient.

“Sophie set up the Carers Support Network and continued to be actively involved in this. She will be sadly missed by the health care community in Homerton and across Hackney.”

On Michael, Ms Fletcher added: “Michael was a vibrant, larger than life character on our acute care unit, and was well known and very well liked throughout the hospital. He will be greatly missed by all his colleagues both in the ACU and the wider Homerton Hospital community.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this sad time.”

They are the second and third Homerton workers to die in the hospital having contracted coronavirus, following the death of Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury on April 8.

Ms Fletcher confirmed earlier this month in an email to staff that four workers, including Dr Chowdhury, had died since the outbreak started, but the other three deaths have not been linked to coronavirus.

The hospital has told the Gazette there has been no issue with the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

More than 100 people have now died at the hospital after contracting Covid-19. On Friday a spokesperson said the number of people being admitted with coronavirus was starting to drop.