Black doctor dies of COVID after alleging hospital mistreatment

Lying on a hospital bed struggling to breathe despite taking oxygen, Dr. Susan Moore, a 52-year-old black doctor, looked at her cell phone and recorded a video claiming that her battle with COVID-19 was compounded by the treatment she she received from a doctor at a suburban hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Moore died on Sunday of coronavirus complications, his son said. She claimed that a doctor who treated her repeatedly ignored her complaints that she was in terrible pain and wanted to send her home. This doctor, she claimed, initially said that she felt uncomfortable giving him painkillers and “made me feel like a drug addict,” she said on social media.

“That’s how black people are killed. When you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves,” said Moore in the December 4 video he posted on his Facebook page at Indiana University Health North Hospital in Carmel, Indiana , Your hometown. “I had to talk to someone, maybe the media, to let people know how I’m being treated in this place.

“I propose, and I say, if I were white, I wouldn’t have to go through this,” said Moore, who tested positive for COVID in late November, in his Facebook post. She added that she no longer trusts the hospital and is asking to be transferred.

Moore’s case appears to highlight a concern that health care advocates say has been exposed by the pandemic: claims that blacks and minorities suffering from COVID receive inferior medical treatment compared to whites.

Blacks were also disproportionately affected and died of coronavirus more than whites. An analysis by the Brookings Institution released earlier this year showed that blacks with COVID died 3.6 times more than whites.

An ABC News investigation published in April found that black people at critical points for coronavirus are twice as likely to die from the disease as their white counterparts.

Moore’s 19-year-old son Henry Muhammed told ABC News that his mother tested positive for COVID on November 29 and went to IU North because she had been in the hospital before and was close to her home.

He said his mother was discharged on December 7, but stayed at home for just 12 hours before he had to call an ambulance to rush her to a different hospital. Moore wrote on her Facebook page that when she was admitted to Ascension-St. Vincent Hospital in Carmel, his temperature rose to 103 degrees and his blood pressure dropped to 80/60. Normal blood pressure is usually 120/80.

Her son said that although his mother received much better treatment, her health gradually deteriorated and she was put on a respirator. She died at 1 am Sunday morning, he said.

“I hoped that when I got there, she would still be alive, but when they opened the doors of the ICU and told me that she was gone … I was almost hyperventilating,” he told ABC News. “I was like, ‘Mom, I love you, mom. I love you.’ And I just prayed and hoped that she was doing well in heaven, doing better and she was at peace. “

Muhammed said the treatment his mother claimed to have received at IU North Health irritates him.

“I am outraged beyond words … because if what my mom thinks was true and it was racism, and they neglected it because of it, no one should go through it. That puts the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ into a totally context new, “he said.

“My mom was legitimately very scared. I hadn’t seen my mom so scared in a long, long time. She was concerned about the doctor’s lack of empathy. She didn’t feel that the doctor cared about her or her health, or if she was getting better or not, “he said, adding that his mother called him daily from IU North hospital, often with pain and tears. “She kind of thought of it as the doctor wanted her to get out of the hospital as soon as possible and she was very concerned about it.”

In an email to ABC News, an IU North Health spokesman said of Dr. Moore: “We are very sad to hear of your death.”

“IU North respects and defends patient privacy and cannot comment on a specific patient, his medical history or conditions,” the hospital said in a statement. “As an organization committed to equity and the reduction of racial disparities in health, we take allegations of discrimination very seriously and investigate all allegations.”

The statement went on to say: “Treatment options are often agreed upon and reviewed by medical specialists from a variety of specialties, and we uphold the commitment and experience of our caregivers and the quality of care provided to our patients every day.

Muhammed said he and his family have not decided whether to take legal action against IU North, but are exploring their options for appeal.

“I was her only child. Me and my mom were very close. I told her everything. She wasn’t just my mom, she was kind of my best friend. And she was always there to support me along the way,” he said. he . “It is a very difficult loss. It is incalculable how much a loss it is. You cannot measure how much my mother means to me. It is really worrying to know that she is gone.”

He said his mother was also the primary caregiver for his parents, who had dementia. He said he is now taking care of his grandparents.

“They are asking about her. I tried to tell them that she passed away and … they don’t always remember,” he said.

He said his mother decided to become a doctor after initially working as an engineer. She graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in 2001, said Muhammed.

“I was born three months before she graduated from medical school,” said Muhammed.

He said that they moved to Indiana when he was in high school because his mother got a job there as a visiting doctor. He said she ended up setting up her own family practice in Peru, Indiana, about 60 miles north of her hometown.

“She always did things for others, even almost too much,” he said. “She was just a kind caregiver. The medical job she had, she couldn’t have found a better profession. Her passion and her ability to care for others, that was my mother.”

So, he said, it infuriates him to think how she would have been treated by people in her own profession, in the most terrible moments of her life. He also said it makes him afraid of other blacks suffering from COVID who are not doctors and who may not know how to defend themselves.

“All of these thousands of people, all of these people, I fear for them and I hope it inspires change,” he said. “We cannot have that in society. We have to hold the medical community accountable for this.”

He said he still hasn’t been able to watch the video that his mother posted on the hospital’s Facebook.

“Hearing my mother’s voice and seeing it … is difficult,” he said. “It brings back everything I miss about her.”

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