Kious Kelly, a nursing manager at a Manhattan hospital, texted her sister on March 18 with devastating news: She had tested positive for the coronavirus and was on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. He said that he could send text messages but not speak.
"I'm fine. Don't tell mom and dad. They'll worry," she wrote to her sister, Marya Patrice Sherron.
That was his last message. Sherron's subsequent text messages to him went unanswered. In less than a week, he was dead.
Kelly, a 48-year-old assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West, may have been the first New York City nurse to die from the virus.
Her sister said she had asthma but was otherwise fine.
"His death could have been prevented," Sherron said on Facebook on Wednesday. Later, she added: "I am angry. I was healthy."
"He was the best. He was the most generous and selfless person.
I would always find a way to make you smile.
I spoke to Mayra Sherron about her brother Kious Kelly, a registered nurse who passed away Tuesday night.
Your story here -> https://t.co/9AXAxUUZMn pic.twitter.com/m7BoJ8arON
– Emmanuelle Saliba 🧐 (@_esaliba) March 26, 2020
Colleagues at the hospital were also angry. Some complained on social media channels that they did not have an adequate supply of protective clothing or masks.
A nurse who worked with Kelly said the hospital had offered nurses a plastic protective gown for a full shift, although normal protocol required a change of gowns between interactions with infected patients. The nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the staff member was not authorized to speak to the media, said Kelly had not worn protective equipment, even though she regularly assisted her team's nurses with hands-on care.
Recently, on March 10, she helped a nurse remove her protective gear after working with a patient who tested positive for the virus, the nurse said.
Several Mount Sinai West staff members, contacted for this story, said hospital administrators had told them not to speak to journalists. Kelly's death was first reported in the New York Post.
Gia Lisa Krahne, an outside consultant who provided alternative Ayurvedic care to a patient in Mount Sinai West, said she last saw Kelly at work the week of March 9, interacting with patients and hospital staff, wearing no mask or protective equipment.
Bevon Bloise, a registered nurse at Mount Sinai West, complained on Facebook that the hospital does not have enough personal protective equipment or PPE. "I am also very angry with the Mount Sinai Health System for not protecting it. We do not have enough PPE, we do not have the correct PPE, and we do not have adequate personnel to handle this pandemic. And I do not appreciate that the representatives of this health system say so. contrary in the news. "
"We lost a great fighter during this war," said a co-worker named Diana Torres on Facebook. He posted a photo of coworkers tying scarves on their faces in an effort to protect themselves. "NO, THIS IS NOT A SUITABLE PPE," he wrote.
On his Facebook page, Mount Sinai West said he was "deeply saddened by the death of a beloved member of our nursing staff," without naming Kelly.
In an email, a hospital spokeswoman, Lucia Lee, questioned the claim that the hospital had not provided protective equipment for its staff. "This crisis is depleting the resources of all New York area hospitals, and while we have and have had enough protective equipment for our staff, we will all need more in the coming weeks," Lee said in the statement.
The New York Post article included a photo of hospital staff using trash bags over what appeared to be scrub. Two nurses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, said they were disposable scrubs made of permeable material, which is why the nurses wrapped plastic trash bags around them.
The photo, they said, was taken on March 17, at a time when there were many coronavirus patients in the hospital and others who had not yet been tested but had symptoms of infection.
In the emailed statement, Lee added, "The troublesome photo circulating in the media specifically shows the nurses in the P.P.E. under trash bags."
She did not answer a question about why hospital staff carried trash bags.
Kelly lived a few blocks from the hospital and her colleagues described her as a dedicated and in a good mood.
"I used to carry a thick notepad holder that hides a box full of chocolates and sweets so you can have it on hand to deliver to miserable / whiny nurses and doctors who are more likely not to be hungry," said Joanne Loo, a nurse at Mount Sinai West, posted on Facebook Wednesday.
But nursing was not his first vocation. Born in Lansing, Michigan, Kelly moved to New York more than 20 years ago to pursue a career as a dancer, her sister said. He then went to nursing school and worked as a nurse at Mount Sinai West, before being promoted to the position of assistant manager in the telemetry department.
Her family is now trying to return her body to Michigan.
"We know we can't have a service any time soon, but we want it at home," said Sherron. "He died alone. We want him at home now.
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