A North Texas family and college campus is mourning the loss of a beloved registered nurse who came out of retirement to teach future frontline workers amid the COVID-19 health crisis, only to die of the virus herself.
“She was doing what she loved,” said Selene Meda-Schlamel, daughter of Iris Meda. “Despite the risks, she was living life to the fullest. On her own terms at the time. Trying to prepare future nurses for this country.”
That is what brings comfort to the family of a wife, mother and grandmother full of life and generosity.
Iris Meda was a high school drop-out who went on the earn her GED diploma and eventually her degree to become a registered nurse.
Meda retired from the North Texas Job Corps in January where she was an administrator in the clinic.
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The 70-year-old told her daughter she felt the need to come out of retirement.
“One of the reasons she wanted to be an educator, specifically in nursing at this time, the reason she came out of retirement to pursue it was because of the pandemic,” said Meda-Schlamel. “She wanted to train other frontline workers to help in this crisis.”
So she did.
Beginning in September, Meda taught nursing students at Collin College as well as high school students earning dual-credit.
“She would say how she could pick out the ones who were struggling and she would stay after with them and give them a helping hand because she had received so much encouragement in her life,” said Meda-Schlamel.
Meda’s daughter said she contracted COVID-19 in October and was hospitalized on Oct. 17 after previously being sent home.
As her worried students sent get well cards, messages and photographs of encouragement and support, Meda’s condition worsened and she was placed on a ventilator.
Just over a week ago, Meda’s 75-year-old husband and her daughter were allowed to wear PPE and be there as Meda took her final breath.
“Just to see this amazing, vivacious woman ... so willing to put her life on the line to help others so they could then help others, to see her languishing there,” said Meda-Schlamel. “It was such a tragedy.”
Through her pain, Meda-Schlamel said she wants to ensure everyone understands what to expect should you or a loved one be hospitalized.
“Just because you make it into the hospital in time doesn’t mean that you’re going to immediately get all of the treatment because of the hospital’s own protocol, plus the overcrowding and shortness of staff,” she said.
Collin College District President Neil Matkin released a statement to NBC 5 on Meda’s passing, stating: “On behalf of our Board of Trustees, students, faculty and staff, we extend our deepest condolences to the Meda family. Professor Meda’s family shared that she was honored to serve as an instructor at Collin College, and we are sincerely grateful for her service to our students.”