The nurse at a Littleton nursing home who died Friday after testing positive for coronavirus was remembered by a family member as a doting great-grandmother who spent decades helping others as a health care worker.
Maria Krier, 59, was a loving, protecting, and giving person who worked as a nurse for nearly 40 years, said her granddaughter, Jayde Dries, in an interview via text messages Sunday.
“She loved being a nurse because she loved helping everyone she could. She loved seeing the smiles on her patients faces and helping as much as she could,” Dries said.
Krier was identified by WCVB-TV as a nurse who quit working at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley over concerns about how the facility handled the coronavirus. WCVB reported that she felt management had no experience with infectious disease, which contributed to its spread.
“We kept waiting for the ball to drop. Like, when are you going to tell us we’re exposed to it?” she told the news station.
Among those who mourned Krier was US Representative Lori Trahan, who called Krier a “hero in our community," and called for more transparency from the leadership of Life Care.
“Maria showed tremendous courage when she blew the whistle on the outbreak at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley," Trahan said. "Her urgent concern for her fellow nurses and the residents at the facility is a testament to her character and the values that she held.”
In a statement Saturday, Kate O’Connor, a regional vice president, said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of one our associates during these challenging times the country is experiencing.”
Ten Life Care residents with cases of COVID-19 have died, plus 75 staff members are out of work, Life Care has said, including 14 who have tested positive for the virus.
A Life Care spokesman said Sunday the company had no additional comment.
On Sunday, the state’s total reported deaths attributed to COVID-19 was up to 756 . Of those, 340 — about 45 percent — were deaths reported in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities.
The state Department of Public Health, which releases those figures, did not respond to a question Sunday about whether Krier was the first front-line health care worker to die from the virus in Massachusetts.
Krier became ill about two weeks ago, and tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, said Dries. She had spoken to her grandmother that day, Dries said, and Krier was fearful because of her preexisting health issues.
But Krier was mainly concerned about her patients and co-workers in Littleton, she said, which is why she spoke out.
“She didn’t want to work for a place that didn’t care about patients and staff enough to give them proper treatment and personal protection,” Dries said.
Krier felt the right decision was to speak out, Dries said.
“She was very worried about everyone involved and felt that if proper measures were going to be taken to treat patients and potentially staff then testing needed to be done,” Dries said.
Krier was a Philadelphia native who moved to Massachusetts about 15 years ago, living in Reading and later in Lunenburg, Dries said.
Dries, 21, who lives in Hamburg, Pa., said her grandmother — whom she called “Mommom” — planned on retiring this summer and moving back to Philadelphia to be closer to her family, which includes Krier’s two great-grandsons, one of whom is Dries’s 3-year-old son,
Krier’s last wish was to get Dries’s 17-year-old brother a German shepherd puppy, but she died before she could do so, Dries said. Instead, Dries and her sister got him the puppy on Saturday.
The family had been planning to celebrate Krier’s 60th birthday in October, Dries said. Now they hope to use the hall that was rented as a space for a celebration of Krier’s life, she said.
“She always told us that everything she did was for us kids,” Dries said. “She was very dedicated to the Lord and always said her prayers and made sure we all said them too.”
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.