Family of Chicago 911 call center employee mourning after he died from COVID-19


CHICAGO (WGN) — The family of a 911 call center operator is mourning after their loved one died from COVID-19. They are worried there are not enough safety precautions being taken for other call center employees. 

Russell Modjeski had worked in the 911 call center on West Madison for 20 years. He was only 60 years old when he died on March 29. His family is afraid he got sick while on duty.

Modjeski was a quiet man who dearly loved his family. They said he loved to cook and he often prepared food for his coworkers at the 911 call center.

His family said there was not much done at work in regards to COVID-19 safety precautions. His family says he passed out at his desk in late March and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. He died about a week later, after suffering from COVID-19 and eventually a heart attack. He also had diabetes.

“He said that precautions weren’t taking except for hand sanitizer on peoples’ desks and that he voiced his concern for the safety of his coworkers,” Hannah Modjeski, his daughter, said. 

His family is now mourning at home, quarantined for their own safety. His mother-in-law, who also lives with the family, has just tested positive.

“We’re forced to mourn alone,” Modjeski’s daughter, said. “We cant have contact with family or friends. There’s no one we can hug for support. We lost my dad way too young and  it just makes it that much harder.”

They are also saddened and don’t feel like his death is being adequately acknowledged by city leaders.

They think he died in the line of duty.

“He was just a dedicated employee to the city and he was a civil servant for 20 years so it was just a little hurtful that that they are acknowledging the other departments,” Kelly Hamilton, Modjeski’s wife, said. “Other families probably feel like we did.”

His family said he was worried about his health and the safety of his coworkers. The call center is densely populated and workers share desks and equipment.

“Really no one from 911 has reached out to our home by letter or card,” Hamilton said. “I really just think he should be acknowledged.”

According to WGN they reached out to both the mayor’s office and OEMC but has not heard back.

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