A young doctor who died after contracting the novel coronavirus over the summer re-used the same face mask “for weeks, if not months,” her family claims.
Dr. Adeline Fagan, originally from Lafayette, N.Y., near Syracuse, who was working on her second year of residency as an OB-GYN in Houston, Texas, died in September, according to a GoFundMe created in her name. The 28-year-old had battled the novel virus for two months prior to her death, according to multiple reports.
Though it’s not clear how exactly Fagan contracted the disease, her sister, Maureen told the Guardian that she thinks Fagan’s rotation in the ER at HCA Houston Healthcare West, where she treated COVID-19 patients, may have played a role, as well as inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE.)
“Adeline had an N95 mask and had her name written on it,” her sister told the outlet. “Adeline wore the same N95 for weeks and weeks, if not months and months.” (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] says online that an N95 respirator should be used no more than five times to “ensure an adequate safety margin.”)
“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,” a spokeswoman for HCA West said in a statement to the Guardian. The hospital declined to comment on Fagan’s sister’s allegations.
The morning of July 8, Fagan “went into work feeling well and excited to see patients, but by the evening she began to feel under the weather. What started as intense flu-like symptoms escalated within the week to a hospital stay,” her family wrote on GoFundMe.
The doctor spent the next few weeks battling the disease and was treated with “several different respiratory therapies and put on dozens of drugs.”
None of these treatments proved effective, leading the doctors treating her to try an “experimental drug trial,” the post from the family reads.
“However, before we could see if this new drug was effective, her lungs could no longer support her,” they wrote, noting she was intubated and placed on a ventilator on Aug. 3. Her condition failed to improve and doctors then placed Fagan on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO), also known as extracorporeal life support.
For a few days, Fagan was reportedly “doing wonderfully,” per the GoFundMe, but the tables turned over the weekend when doctors called the family to inform them she had suffered from a “massive brain bleed” that required surgery immediately.
“They immediately rushed her for a CT scan, which showed the extent of the damage. The neurosurgeon said it was a ‘one in a million’ chance she would even survive the procedure, but that Adeline would have several severe cognitive and sensory limitations if she did survive. Of that the doctor was sure. Everyone was crushed by the events, the nurses, the doctors, and, of course, us,” the post reads.
“We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped…,” they wrote.
“The world stopped for a moment and will never be the same. Our beautiful daughter, sister, friend, physician, Adeline Marie Fagan, M.D., passed away,” reads a follow-up post on the GoFundMe page penned by her father, Brant Fagan.
“We want to sincerely thank all who supported Adeline and us through this difficult time. You were all there cheering and praying and crying. The number of well wishes and caring people humbles us. Even in this darkest of times, there are good people willing to share a piece of themselves for the sake of another,” he continued.
“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,” he wrote. “We love you, Adeline, with all our hearts.”