PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona has lost nearly 16,000 people to COVID-19. One of them was a Phoenix-area school administrator who was featured in a powerful documentary about the frontlines of the pandemic. The documentary is called "Death, Through a Nurse's Eyes."
Ana Maria Aragon got sick around mid-December and was later hospitalized, according to relatives. The 65-year-old worked for the Academia Del Pueblo in South Phoenix for more than 20 years. Colleagues there described her as a "child advocate."
"When grocery shopping, kids would come up to her and say "Miss Anita, Miss Anita!" her son-in-law Frank Munoz tells us.
Munoz spoke with Arizona's Family alongside his wife, Ana Lilia, who is Aragon's daughter.
The New York Times was at Valleywise Health in January documenting frontline workers when Aragon lost her battle with the virus. Aragon's family gave the crew permission to use her identity. The footage captures Aragon's final moments as family said goodbyes over video call and a nurse held her hand.
"It's always an honor to be that conduit for the family," says Sara Reynolds, one of several Valleywise nurses at Aragon's bed side when she passed away January 26.
After the documentary was released, she got a chance to speak with Aragon's family. "It's not all about a thank you," says Reynolds. "It's just more, 'How are you doing?' and, I'm a real person, too. I did truly care."
Aragon's family says they feel grateful they were given the opportunity to be a part of the New York Times project.
"It's something we never imagined but we wanted to also find out. Now it's global," says Munoz. "We wanted to leave a legacy so that our children will know how their grandmother fought until the last minute."
The family hopes the intimate look at the pandemic's emotional toll encourages others to "be careful."
"It's like she's going to walk through the door and she's still here," says Munoz. "We miss her every day."