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'She fought until the end': Farmington hospital employee who died from coronavirus remembered

EMS crews led Lilly Tsosie's motorcade from Albuquerque back to Farmington on June 19 after her death

Joshua Kellogg   | Farmington Daily Times
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  • Lilly Tsosie, 65, a phlebotomist who worked at the hospital for 30 years, died from coronavirus June 17.
  • Her daughter said Lilly started to feel ill the week of June 11 with a headache and fever. A test on June 15 was positive for COVID-19.
  • Lilly's friend and former coworker described Lilly as "tiny but a ball of fire."

FARMINGTON — A San Juan Regional Medical Center employee who died from COVID-19 earlier this month was loved by her family and her patients.

Lilly Tsosie, 65, a phlebotomist who worked at the hospital for 30 years, died from the coronavirus on June 17 at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, according to one of her daughters, Lacey Williams.

Williams and a friend of Tsosie, LuAnn Davis, spoke to The Daily Times about how she was a great mother and how patients sought her out when getting their blood drawn.

Glovis Foster, a San Juan AirCare Paramedic, recently died from the coronavirus on June 12.

A Farmington High School graduate, Tsosie celebrated 30 years at the hospital in May.

She had four daughters: Williams, Lana Tsosie, Lauren Tsosie and Lindsey Tsosie.

Williams stated Lilly Tsosie started to feel ill the week of May 11 with a headache and fever. A test on May 15 was positive for COVID-19.

Lilly Tsosie had issues with the coronavirus attacking her lungs. Williams said she was pretty healthy until she tested positive.

"She fought until the end. She really fought," Lacey Williams said. "It just wasn't enough."

More: Farmington hospital seeks cloth mask, surgical cap donations

Lilly Tsosie was transported to Albuquerque as her condition worsened. That is where she died.

Her daughters and family were able to travel in the motorcade that escorted her home from Albuquerque to San Juan Regional Medical Center on June 19.

EMS crews leading the escort drove by the north side of the hospital, where staff and the community welcomed Lilly back.

Signs decorated with phrases like "We (heart) you. We Will Miss You," #LABSTRONG and "Rest In Peace Lilly" were held up by her coworkers. Williams said the entire experience was overwhelming.

"Just the fact they took the time from their day to show their support was very appreciated," Lacey Williams said.

Lilly Tsosie was someone who wanted to make sure everyone was being taken care of, Williams said.

When she died, she was raising three of her grandchildren. One of them just graduated high school.

Williams said her mother was a fan of the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders soccer team and had her daughters play sports when they were young.

Both Williams and Davis recalled how she loved working with her patients, and how some of the patients would request her by name.

Davis worked with her for several years before transferring to a different department.

"She was just a super hard worker," Davis said. "She was fine with you as long as you were working as hard as she was."

Davis also described her as "tiny but a ball of fire" and someone who was kind and sweet, and could recall from the top of her head where a patient likes to have their blood drawn from.

More: What does the coronavirus do to your body? Everything to know about the infection process

It was in a text message from Lilly that Davis learned she had COVID-19.

"She said, 'LuAnn, I'm sick. I have the (COVID-19),'" LuAnn Davis said. "Could you please pray for me?"

Davis saw on social media how former patients remembered Lilly as a great person, and said the outpouring from the community has been amazing.

"I guarantee you, people will come in and ask for her to draw their blood," Davis said.

Davis said she felt lucky to be able to attend the funeral services on June 25 for her friend. But at the same time, she struggled to believe that her friend was gone.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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