FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Broward Sheriff’s Office dispatcher has died from coronavirus.
Emergency communications operator Nikima Thompson who worked at the North Regional Communications Center died on Monday night.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Gregory Tony said the entire department is mourning her loss.
“She has been employed with the agency for over 16 years,” he said.
The sheriff said March 22nd was her last day on the job. The 41-year-old tested positive for the virus on April 2nd and spent several weeks in the hospital.
“Unfortunately, she had to go on a ventilator and fight this battle for quite some time. Her family had to make a very difficult decision as most of her organs, and things of that nature, failed and they had to remove her from the ventilator,” said Tony.
WATCH: SHERIFF GREGORY TONY NEWS CONFERENCE ON THE DEATH OF DISPATCHER NIKIMA THOMPSON
The sheriff asked that people keep Thompson’s family in their prayers.
“I want to reach out and say keep your prayers at heart for not only this agency but for her family. She leaves behind four kids, siblings, and many other loved ones who are suffering from this,” he said.
Tony said Thompson’s mother is also fighting the virus and dealing with a similar battle “as she navigates her health issues.”
Thompson was born in Miami and graduated from Miami Norland Senior High School in 1996. She joined the sheriff’s office in 2003.
“She was a very vibrant, entertaining, fun,” said Joanne Alvarez, the Business Representative for the Federation of Public Employees, BSO Civilian Unit.
Alvarez said she worked with Thompson for almost 17 years.
“She just walked into the room and always had a smile on her face,” she said
Thompson is the first communications specialist or dispatcher in the state to die from COVID-19.
As of Monday, 104 Broward sheriff’s employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
“When you lose someone who you’ve known for a lot of your adult life and shared a lot of special occasions and life with, it’s a loss,” said Alvarez. “Her kids were her world.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association has criticized Tony, claiming he hasn’t gotten personal protective equipment into their hands fast enough.
The union blasted the sheriff in a statement Tuesday, saying, “Greg Tony has blood on his hands with the passing of communications operator Nikima Thompson for not providing proper PPE equipment.”
“I want whoever is responsible held accountable,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez said contracted the virus before mask coverings were distributed to dispatchers, which started April 8th.
Alvarez said they are working with the sheriff to improve safety. Plastic barriers have been put up to separate dispatchers from each other. She said they are “75 percent there.”
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