A 48-year-old assistant nursing supervisor died of coronavirus after working at a hospital where nurses recently criticized the lack of medical supplies in a social media post.
Kious Kelly tested positive for COVID-19 after helping treat patients with coronavirus at New York City’s Mt. Sinai West, and died Tuesday, according to the hospital and his sister. He may be the first nurse in the city to succumb to the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Kelly’s sister, Marya Patrice Sherron, blamed her brother’s death on the lack of adequate protective gear for health care workers. “My brother didn’t have to die,” she tweeted Wednesday. “Healthcare providers need PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) NOW!”
Sherron called her brother’s death “excruciating,” adding: “It’s hard to breathe, I don’t know how to do this.”
Kelly was popular among his heartbroken colleagues, who said he always went the extra mile for the staff and patients.
A photograph of three nurses at Kelly’s hospital outfitted in garbage bags — instead of standard medical gear — was recently shared on social media, the New York Post reported. The message has since been removed, but the photo was published by the Post.
“NO MORE GOWNS IN THE WHOLE HOSPITAL,” the caption read, according to the Post. “NO MORE MASKS AND REUSING THE DISPOSABLE ONES … NURSES FIGURING IT OUT DURING COVID-19 CRISIS.”
One of the nurses is holding a box of garbage bags.
The Trump administration has come under fire for not mobilizing America’s manufacturing forces to produce desperately needed ventilators for patients and protective gear for health care workers, including gowns, gloves and masks.
A representative for Mt. Sinai West disputed that the hospital lacks adequate protective gear, but acknowledged that it would soon face a shortage. “This crisis is straining the resources of all New York area hospitals, and while we do — and have had — enough protective equipment for our staff, we will all need more in the weeks ahead,” Lucia Lee said in a statement.
Other nurses at the hospital have testified on social media about the lack of protective gear that countless hospitals and communities are grappling with. One nurse told The New York Times that staff members were told by Mt. Sinai not to talk to journalists.
“I’m ... very angry with the Mount Sinai Health System for not protecting” Kelly, wrote Bevon Bloise, a nurse at Mt. Sinai West, on Facebook. “We do not have enough PPE, we do not have the correct PPE, and we do not have the appropriate staffing to handle this pandemic.”
Sherron told the Times she first learned her brother was sick and on a ventilator last week. “I’m okay. Don’t tell Mom and Dad. They’ll worry,” he texted.
That was the last time he wrote.