Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Curaçao: Nurse who contracted COVID-19 celebrated as CIBC Unsung Hero

Curaçao registered nurse Jurgen Lacruz who is one of the inaugural winners of the CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Frontline Heroes initiative. Photo courtesy CIBC FirstCaribbean.

Curaçao registered nurse Jurgen Lacruz who is one of the inaugural winners of the CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Frontline Heroes initiative. Photo courtesy CIBC FirstCaribbean.

A nurse from Curaçao who contracted COVID-19 while caring for patients is among the winners of the inaugural CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Unsung Frontline Heroes initiative.

The bank in a media release said the programme was designed by CIBC FirstCaribbean through its ComTrust Foundation to "unearth the work of persons across the region at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight" and it "has brought to light the stories of many of those whose deeds have gone virtually untold."

The bank reported more than 100 people were nominated for awards and among the winners is 32-year-old Jurgen Lacruz of Curaçao, a registered nurse tending to COVID-19 patients at a hospital Intensive Care Unit in both Curaçao and St. Maarten who later contracted the virus himself.

"The personal journeys of individuals such as...Lacruz...have also shone the spotlight on the challenges and sacrifices being made by frontline workers every day to battle the pandemic. However, based on the overwhelming feedback of the public and panels of judges in each jurisdiction where the bank operates, the winners have been firmly endorsed as national treasures."

The bank reported that earlier this year Lacruz was sent to St Maarten to assist patients at the St Maarten Medical Center. 

"Unfortunately, during his assignment there, he contracted COVID-19. When his medical condition worsened, he was flown back home via air ambulance to receive specialised help at the hospital where he works, the Curaçao Medical Center. Thankfully, he has returned to the frontline where he continues to serve his profession with distinction."

The bank said Lacruz openly shared his experience on social media and since he and some of his colleagues have produced many awareness videos on social media to inform people in Curaçao about the dangers of COVID-19.

"This is just one of the many stories of selflessness that have emerged."

The bank also mentioned another winner, nurse Soria Dupie-Winston from Antigua, who has been dubbed an “Angel” by one of her nominees for her professional role and work in the community. 

"Soria eclipsed all other entrants as she worked tirelessly and diligently with the team at the V C Bird International Airport, adding support to border control whilst continuing her daily community nursing in her district, holding the mantle as president of Antigua Barbuda Nursing Association, as well as offering support at Hawksbill Hotel, the facility used for quarantine."

The bank said despite working every day Dupie-Winston is considered a "heroine to all," including her daughter whose poignant words found favour with the judging panel in Antigua and the public. 

“Since this COVID-19 pandemic started, my mom has been working tirelessly to ensure she assists in keeping our country safe. There are times when she gets home at 2am just doing what she can to help everyone keep safe. My mom is a hardworking, dedicated and kind-hearted mother/nurse who I think goes above and beyond the call of duty. She doesn't think twice when someone asks for help. My mother deserves this unsung heroes award because she works seven days a week. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to get some well-needed rest and relaxation.”

Winners will receive an E-Check for US$2,000 toward a staycation at a local hotel of their choice. 

FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation CEO and Chair Colette Delaney noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has led, in many ways, to the re-emergence of the spirit of unity and caring that is an endearing feature of Caribbean people. 

“We are grateful to the contributions of these modern-day heroes, but we know that there are many more who may not have not been singled out but are just as important as they go about working quietly to create the pathways towards health and safety once again for all of us. We remain forever grateful to our first responders for being sources of inspiration and for the good that they do that has made all the difference.” 

The bank reported presentation ceremonies are currently being conducted throughout the region in strict observance of all protocols for social distancing and public gatherings. A full listing of regional winners will be posted on all of the bank’s social media platforms and corporate website at

Under the Unsung Frontline Heroes initiative, nominees must have been resident in any the 16 territories where the CIBC FirstCaribbean operates and have worked, volunteered or been involved in any of the following award categories: medical personnel, protective service and community heroes. Winners were awarded based on a combination of public and final judges’ votes. 

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