DALLAS — A nurse from a Texas medical research center who was on the front lines of a deadly pandemic has died, her family said Saturday.
Dr. Elizabeth D. Burchill, 65, died Saturday at her home in the Dallas suburb of Westlake.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer in February and was among the first medical staff members on the ground at the CDC’s Texas campus.
Her death came as the agency struggled to cope with the outbreak that has killed at least 690 people in the state and led to a major shutdown in the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Her husband, Dr. David Burchills, said in a statement that their family was stunned by the news.
“She was the greatest medical leader and leader of this nation and I am devastated by the loss of her,” he said.
The Burchils have three other children and a grandson.
The Associated Press reported that Burchillo’s family was not immediately available to comment.
The hospital where she worked was closed for several days after her death and has reopened.
The AP identified her as the first person diagnosed with the disease.
The agency said Saturday that its emergency response team is responding to an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Burchiller’s death.
It said she was a full-time staff member of the medical center and would have been the second nurse in the hospital’s respiratory unit to be diagnosed with cancer.
The hospital, in a news release, said the hospital was “deeply saddened” by the death and that Bursill’s family will have full access to her medical records.
She had worked there since 2003.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which operates the hospital, said earlier that Bumpsill’s death was an “injuries to the agency and to all of us.”
It said it is also working with the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and Health Sciences Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas to help families of patients with the new coronavirus.
Burchill was in charge of the CDC-sponsored Phase 1 clinical trial for COVID-19, the first to be launched in the United States to test a vaccine that was approved in April.
The program was meant to test whether the vaccine could be administered to people who had been exposed to a COVID patient before the pandemic.
Her work included conducting blood tests on infected people who were being monitored at the medical facility, and also conducting interviews with patients about the coronaviruses that are circulating.
She also was in the room where the COVID patients were being treated, which meant she was able to ask questions about their conditions and the health of the other patients in the study, the CDC said.
The Burchillas said in their statement that they had learned that the medical team at the facility, the Texas Heart Institute, was planning to close and the hospital had been in a state of emergency since April, and that the family had been waiting for word from the health center for weeks.
“We are devastated by this loss,” David Bumpsills said.
“Elizabeth was a tireless and devoted leader, who loved her patients and everyone who cared about them.
I will never forget what she did for the patients and our nation. “
I will never be the same again.
I will never forget what she did for the patients and our nation.
I have always said that her legacy will live on through us all.”