By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Eastern State Hospital nurse dies of COVID-19


Last updated 4/21/2020 at 1:05pm

MEDICAL LAKE – Long-time nurse at Eastern State Hospital has died due to complications from contracting the disease COVID-19.

According to an obituary published in the April 19 Spokesman-Review, 64-year-old Esequiel (Zeke) Cisneros passed away April 13 after first contracting the disease and then being placed in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. Cisneros and his wife Brenda moved to Medical Lake in 2001.

“The virus quickly devastated Esequiel's body and his family is thankful that he is no longer in pain,” the family wrote in the obituary.

Department of Social and Health Services spokeswoman Kelly Von Holtz said Cisneros worked at ESH for over 30 years. The department wouldn’t comment further on his passing since it occurred outside of work, but noted he last worked at the facility on March 8.

“We are devastated by the loss of one of our DSHS colleagues today,” Sean Murphy, DSHS Assistant Secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration, said in a prepared statement. “Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. Zeke Cisneros was a dedicated licensed practical nurse at Eastern State Hospital for more than three decades and he will be greatly missed.”

Like many nursing homes, prisons and other institutions, DSHS facilities have been impacted by the COVID-19 disease. According to the department’s website, 37 employees and six clients have tested positive, with five clients and 27 employees recovering.

Two individuals have died, a client at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom and now an employee, Cisneros, at ESH in Medical Lake.

According to his obituary, Cisneros was born in Texas, moved to California where he graduated from Oxnard High School and Ventura College. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1976, eventually serving as a dental specialist.

He received his nursing license from North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, working in Idaho before coming to Washington and Eastern State Hospital.

Services for Cisneros will be virtually broadcast at Heritage Funeral Home, with burial at a later date at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake.

John McCallum can be reached at

Author Bio

John McCallum, Managing Editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Cheney Free Press for over 20 years. He has received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories. He has been serving as editor of the Spokane Valley News Herald since March 2020.

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