The sister of a 28-year-old doctor who died after contracting coronavirus has revealed a shortage of PPE forced medical staff to reuse face masks for “weeks if not months” while treating patients at a Texas Hospital.
Dr Adeline Fagan usually delivered babies, but on July 8 she was on rotation in the emergency department to help with the overflow of Covid patients at HCA Houston Healthcare West, The Guardian reported.
Some time during her shift 12-hour shift she began to feel unwell and after testing positive for Covid, the doctor began to quarantine at home.
“What started as intense flu-like symptoms escalated within the week to a hospital stay,” her sister, Maureen Fagan, 23, wrote on a GoFundMe page initially established to help pay for Adeline’s medical bills.
‘Wore the same N95 for weeks’
It’s unclear how Adeline contracted the virus but her sister claims there was a shortage of PPE at the hospital she worked at, forcing staff to use masks more times than advised.
“Adeline had an N95 mask and had her name written on it,” her sister told The Guardian.
“Adeline wore the same N95 for weeks and weeks, if not months and months.”
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says N95 masks are limited to being reused “no more than five uses per device to ensure an adequate safety margin”.
Adeline spent the next few weeks battling covid in ICU and was treated with several different respiratory therapies and dozens of drugs when her lungs could no longer support her.
She was placed on a ventilator, however when her vitals remained unstable, doctors took the last remaining step on August 4.
They used an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device where blood is removed from the body via surgically implanted intravenous tubes, artificially oxygenated and then returned.
‘The world stopped’
On September 15, Adeline’s parents were finally allowed to visit their daughter but they were heartbroken by what they saw.
“Occasionally, Adeline would try to respond, shake her head or mouth a word or two. But her stare was glassy and you were not sure if she was in there,” Adeline’s father Brant Fagan wrote in a blog to update friends and family on her condition.
On September 17 there was small progress with Adeline able to sit up and mouth the words to a song but the next day, Mr Fagan said “the world stopped”.
Adeline suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, possibly because her vascular system had been weakened by Covid.
“We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped,” Mr Fagan wrote on September 19.
Adeline’s family updated the GoFundMe page to now pay for her funeral costs. It has so far raised more than $A260,000.
“If you can do one thing, be an ‘Adeline’ in the world. Be passionate about helping others less fortunate, have a smile on your face, a laugh in your heart, and a Disney tune on your lips,” Mr Fagan wrote in the final post on his blog.
HCA West would not comment specifically on allegations about the PPE, but the facility’s chief medical officer, Dr Emily Sedgwick, said the hospital’s policies did not involve individuals constantly reusing the same mask, The Guardian reported.
“Our protocol, based on CDC guidance, includes colleagues turning in their N95 masks at the conclusion of each shift, and receiving another mask at the beginning of their next shift,” she said.
A spokeswoman for HCA West, Selena Mejia, also told The Guardian hospital staff were “heartbroken” by Adeline’s death.
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