By Harry Keaney
The people of Visitation Parish in the Bronx were saddened at the news of the sudden death on Thursday evening of 29-year-old Geraldine Mary Phelan, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital and daughter of the Aer Lingus cargo manager for North America, Patrick Phelan, and his wife, Christine.
Nurse Phelan, who was accompanied by some of her nursing colleagues, collapsed just outside Mount Sinai after finishing her work shift. She received immediate medical attention and, within minutes, was in the hospital’s emergency department. Unfortunately, however, doctors and medical staff were unable to revive her.
An autopsy was performed and her father said that it is believed that the cause of death was a degenerative floppy mitral valve. Many people who have the condition live normal lives. but, in women, in particular, it can be fatal.
Phelan trained in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork and graduated magna cum laude from Pace University with a degree in psychology. For five years she worked with AIDS patients and was involved in AIDS research.
"She was very special, with a gentle spirit, most caring," her father told the Echo Tuesday morning. He went on to pay tribute to all those who supported his family, including the staff of Mount Sinai and Aer Lingus, and the family’s neighbors and friends in Visitation Parish in the Bronx.
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Geraldine Phelan is survived by her parents, Patrick and Christine (Ida), and by four sisters: Patricia Anne, Helen Frances, Christine Marie and Elizabeth Philomena.
A Mass, arranged by her colleagues in Mount Sinai Hospital, was offered for the repose of her soul. And on Monday evening, Mass was offered by Msgr. Larkin in the Church of the Visitation, Van Cordlandt Park South.
Her remains were flown home to Ireland on Tuesday evening. A wake will take place today, Wednesday, in Barry’s Funeral Home, in Riverstown, Co. Cork. Following Mass of the Resurrection on this Thursday in St. Joseph’s Church, in Glanmire, the funeral will take place to Little Island Cemetery.