Coronavirus: Nurses forced to wear trash bags at hospital where worker died from Covid-19

After the death of a colleague, nurses at Mount Sinai hospitals in New York say they are running out of equipment

Gino Spocchia
Thursday 26 March 2020 14:56 GMT
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: "We are in a de facto state of war"

A nursing manager who cared for coronavirus patients at a New York City hospital where nurses have been wearing trash bags as gowns has died of the virus.

Kious Kelly died at the Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan on Tuesday. His colleagues told NBC News's Emmanuelle Saliba that the 48-year-old had been caring for coronavirus patients.

Mt Sinai Health System confirmed on Wednesday that a member of staff had died, saying: “Today, we lost another hero – a compassionate colleague, friend and selfless caregiver.”

Whilst the statement did not confirm the cause of death, it added: “This growing crisis is not abating and has already devastated hundreds of families in New York and turned our frontline professionals into true American heroes”.

Medical staff at Mt Sinai’s flagship hospital on New York’s Upper East Side said that the death of Mr Kelly was connected to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and basic supplies.

“Kious didn’t deserve this,” one nurse told the New York Post. “The hospital should be held responsible. The hospital killed him.”

Nurses added that there were no more protective gowns – or other essential items – available at the Mt Sinai hospital where Mr Kelly died. Staff at Mt Sinai West have resorted to reusing PPE equipment among infected coronavirus patients due to shortages.

In a Facebook post, nurses shared an image of makeshift trash bag gowns. The caption read: “NO MORE GOWNS IN THE WHOLE HOSPITAL”, and “NURSES FIGURING IT OUT DURING COVID-19 CRISIS.”

Mt Sinai physician, Ujjwal Rastogi, said on Twitter that “this madness needs to stop”. He added: “We lost one of our beloved nurses at Mount Sinai NYC. He was such a great guy, always caring for his patients, fellow co-workers, residents and fellows.”

A spokesperson for Mt Sinai has reportedly denied the claims about equipment shortages.

It comes as a medical crisis escalates at another Mt Sinai hospital, in the borough of Queens.

One doctor told Sky News that the situation was “hell, biblical. I kid you not,”.

With more confirmed cases than any New York borough, Queens has become the epicentre of the city’s – and America’s – coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to staff, Mt Sinai’s Chief Medical Officer said the current situation was the “humanitarian mission of their lifetimes”.

There are now more than 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York City alone.

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