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AU Health honors nurse manager who died of COVID-19 in August

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 7:02 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A local nurse who died from COVID-19 will be honored by the hospital where she spent her life helping others.

Yolanda Coar was a nurse manager for AU Health, working on the surgery floor. She died from COVID-19 back in August of 2020.

Since then, she’s been a symbol for the sacrifice healthcare heroes around the country make every day. She’s been featured on CNN, MSNBC, and even honored at the Democratic National Convention.

Now, doctors at AU are making sure her legacy lives on even after COVID is a distant memory. Eight months later, Coar’s impact is still felt walking through the halls of Augusta University.

“She’s greatly missed,” said Dr. Edmond Ritter, Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia. “If you aim for mediocrity, you get it every time or worse. There was no aiming for mediocrity with Yolanda.”

This new plaque on the walls of the hospital is a reminder to live each day striving for excellence. Just like Yolanda.

“It takes somebody who’s highly intelligent, who’s kind, empathetic, who strives for excellence, who’s well-educated in nursing, that’s what you get. You get really a huge asset to patient care,” said Dr. Ritter.

Coar gave her life to COVID after fighting on the frontlines as a nurse manager. She leaves behind a husband, Matthew, and two young boys, but her husband says she wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“She wanted to. She never complained one time about anything, about having to come in during the pandemic. She just knew it was what she had to do. I think that’s what makes her a great person and a great nurse,” Matthew Coar said.

Written on the plaque, Yolanda’s motto “be exceptional.”

“I think we all need to be inspired every day to do our best for each other, for patients,” said Dr. Ritter.

“I am definitely proud to see how many lives she touched. It makes me feel good and blessed that I was able to be her husband,” said Coar.

Doctors at AU also say they’re starting a yearly lecture for medical students in honor of Yolanda. They’ll bring in a visiting professor to lead a discussion. This year, that talk will be about reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients.

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