Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Big blow for former Sunshine Girl - Registered Nurse Nichala Gibson recovered from COVID-19 but her father was not so lucky

Published:Sunday | May 10, 2020 | 12:00 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Nichala Gibson with her father.
Registered Nurse Nichala Gibson, ready for her shift.
File Sunshine Girl Nichala Gibson (left) with former Jamaica Netball Association president, Marva Bernard (right) in 2009. In the background are other members of the Sunshine Girls squad.

THE LAST two months have been two of the worst in the life of former national netball star Nichala Gibson. She lives in New York City, the epicentre for the COVID-19 virus in the United States.

Gibson and her sister suffered, then recovered from COVID-19 last month. The biggest blow of all, however, came in mid-April when they lost their father to the virus.

The Gibson sisters, Nichala and Asheka, who are both registered nurses in the State of New York, were diagnosed with the deadly virus at the end of March while at work. They were then placed in isolation at their homes. New York has been hit the hardest by the virus in the United States with over 340,000 confirmed cases and more than 26,000 deaths.

Soon after the sisters recovered from the virus, their father Elworth, 69, who resides in a separate location in New York, was diagnosed with the disease. He passed away on April 14.

“It was a hit in the chest, it’s indescribable – getting that call that my dad had passed while I was at work treating other COVID-19 patients,” said Gibson.

“During this pandemic, I had dealt with the death of patients, but it is whole different scenario dealing with the death of my father during this pandemic and it came while I was at work,” she said.


“I knew the doctors did everything they could for my dad, but this COVID-19 virus ravishes the body and I was very devastated by it, but I knew I had to be strong for my sisters and for my mom,” she stated.

Gibson, who has been a registered nurse for the past three and a half years in the Emergency Department at the Presbyterian hospital in Queens, said she would at times be overcome with grief on seeing persons dying daily from the disease.

“I have dealt with death, and grief in terms of my patients in the past, but I have never ever had to deal with deaths of this magnitude,” Gibson said.

“I remember one of my patients saying to me ‘please don’t let me die,’” she said. “It is devastating.”

The 37-year-old Gibson was a member of the Sunshine Girls team that won bronze medals at the 2003 World Netball Championships in Kingston and the 2007 World Netball Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.

“My outlook on life has changed,” Gibson said. “You think that because you are young and you don’t have any illnesses and you are living your best life, you are immune to it. I got it and I have seen persons in my age group die from it,” she said.

Gibson underlined that the virus had a devastating effect on her body as she thought she was going to die while in isolation because she would at times struggle to breathe.

“You have days when your body feels good then and there are days when I am so short of breath,” she said. “I am lying in bed and I am still winded; I felt like I ran a 400m. It was pain all over my body and fever.

“My mom (Hazel Gibson) helped to nurse me back to good health. She used a lot of home remedies and luckily we were strong enough to fight it,” the former netball star said

Gibson, who had 79 caps for the Sunshine Girls, also represented the country at the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games before migrating to the United States in 2010.