Mourning of a “supermom”: the number of injured among the American health workers increases in the fight against viruses


NEW YORK (Reuters) – “Coming home soon,” Madhvi Aya texted from her hospital bed. ” I love you. “

Minnoli Aya poses with her parents Raj and Madhvi on graduation day in this undated photo provided by the family to Reuters on April 13, 2020. Courtesy of Minnoli Aya / Document via REUTERS

It was the last exchange she had with her only daughter, Minnoli, 18. Three days later, Madhvi Aya died from COVID-19.

Aya, 61, was a medical assistant who had treated patients with coronavirus. Then she became a patient herself.

She was admitted to the Long Island Jewish Medical Center on March 18 after being infected and died 11 days later. Her family thinks she has contracted respiratory illness in her workplace – the emergency room at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

An SMS exchange between Minnoli Aya and her mother Madhvi, who died from a coronavirus. Courtesy of Minnoli Aya

She told her husband and daughter that she had treated infected patients while wearing only a surgical mask, which offers little protection against airborne infections. Woodhull Hospital declined to comment on Aya’s case if it had been able to provide its staff with sufficient protective equipment in a context of widespread scarcity.

Aya is one of 51 American health workers identified by Reuters to have died after being diagnosed or showing symptoms of the virus. These are nurses, doctors and technicians who died in the United States after contracting the disease, according to interviews with hospitals, union and family representatives, and a Reuters review of local media and obituaries.

There is no official count of deaths among healthcare workers in the United States, and the total could be much higher than the number counted by Reuters.

Minnoli is a first year student at New York State University in Buffalo hoping to become a cardiothoracic trauma surgeon. She continued to text her mother for days after her death.

“I kept texting her to believe it was not true,” said Minnoli. “She deserved to live and see me graduate, to become a doctor, to marry and have children.”

Determined to create a pleasant life for her daughter, Aya became a medical assistant, a job that involved 12-hour shifts in the emergency room of her Brooklyn hospital.

Since March 1, the date the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in New York, 28,183 people have tested positive in Brooklyn and 1,869 people have died, or more than 28% of the deaths confirmed by coronavirus in New York.


To date, more than 28,440 people have died in the United States due to COVID-19.

Of the 51 deaths among healthcare workers identified by Reuters, at least 16 have occurred in New York, one of the hardest hit states. At least seven were in Michigan, six in Florida, and six in New Jersey.

At least 27 were nurses.

This is Patrick Cain, 52, an intensive care nurse from Flint, Michigan, originally from Canada. When he died, the hospital broadcast the national anthem “Oh Canada” on the speakers, according to another hospital nurse.

“Everyone knew then,” said the nurse.

Her obituary in the Flint Journal describes him as a passionate nurse who has always stood up for patients. “He took care of those in need who were exposed to the coronavirus, which ended up killing him,” says his obituary.

At least 10 of the deceased were physicians or resident physicians. Dria, daughter of Florida doctor Alex Hsu, described him as calm and reassuring, and said he made others feel heard and important. The 67-year-old actor was “the epitome of selflessness and selflessness,” Dria told Reuters.

“He is our hero,” she said.

Emergency Medicine Doctor Frank Gabrin, who worked in two New York area hospitals and died of COVID-19 last month, said he believed he had contracted the virus when he was forced to reuse the same N-95 mask due to a shortage, according to his best friend Debra Lyons.

“He said it was caused by wearing the mask four times in a row,” Lyons said in a telephone interview. “He got the kit the first night of his first shift and used the same kit for the four 12-hour shifts.”

At least five of the deaths identified by Reuters were hospital technicians, and at least four were paramedics.

The youngest deceased healthcare worker Reuters found was just 20 years old: Valeria Viveros, a nursing assistant in Riverside, California. At least 15 people were in their 60s and 12 in their 50s.

A kiss before work

If Madhvi Aya was concerned about treating coronavirus patients without the recommended N-95 respirator, she never expressed it, said her husband Raj, a retired accountant.

She was an optimist who seldom called sick or took a day off, Raj told Reuters.

Aya, who immigrated from India with her husband in 1993, woke up at 4 am and kissed her daughter on the forehead before leaving for work.

The changes in the emergency room were exhausting. When Raj picked up his wife from work at night, she was generally silent on the way home. She should close her eyes for 15 minutes before speaking.

“The emergency room is like a war zone,” said Raj. “Even if I was very close to her, she would never talk about it. “

She developed a cough and fever in mid-March. Raj convinced her to call sick on March 14 and took her to Woodhull Hospital for a coronavirus test.

At home, she quickly needed Raj’s help to get dressed. She was too weak to get out of bed. Her fever persisted.

On March 18, she asked Raj to take him to the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the hospital closest to their home in Floral Park, Long Island. He waited outside in the car, unable to enter due to the hospital’s policy of not visiting.

She was admitted. She obtained the Woodhull coronavirus test result the same day: positive.

Minnoli returned home on March 20 after the courses were posted online. She tried to call her mother for a week, but Aya was too weak to answer.

“I always pray that you will come home safely.” I need you mom, “wrote Minnoli on March 25.” None of us can live without you. I believe in you, please fight. You are so strong mom. I love it so much more than you can imagine. “

“I love you,” replied his mother. “Mom come back.” “


Raj called the hospital every day for updates. He learned that Aya was receiving intravenous fluids and oxygen. As the days went by, she began to have more trouble breathing.

On March 28, attending physician Aya spoke of the possibility of intubation as a final attempt to increase her oxygen levels, said Raj.

In her latest messages to Raj on Saturday, she asked her husband to consult her brother, a doctor in India, to find out if she should agree to be intubated. Raj read on the Internet intubation, contacted his family and consulted with friends.

They told him that he should say yes, that intubation is a last resort.

The medical team attempted to intubate him on Sunday March 29. But during the process of inserting the breathing tube, doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs, said Raj. They tried to remove them, but they failed.

“Mr. Aya, we are sorry,” said the person who called the hospital to tell him that his wife had died.

Aya’s death was reported earlier today by the New York Times.

Woodhull hospital spokeswoman Michelle Hernandez said that Aya was one of three recently deceased hospital staff, but declined to say whether the others had died from COVID-19.

Two weeks after Aya’s death, Minnoli sleeps downstairs in the living room to avoid his mother’s bedroom upstairs. She and Raj have lost the “supermom” that kept the family together, said Minnoli. They also lost their health insurance and their income.

A friend raised over $ 46,000 for Raj and Minnoli through a GoFundMe campaign to cover their expenses. Several colleagues and friends of Aya contributed.

“Madhvi was more than just a colleague for me. She was a great friend and a mentor, “wrote one of them on the campaign page.

Slideshow (8 Images)

“I will always remember you,” said another.

Every night in New York, the neighborhoods around hospitals encourage healthcare professionals to express their gratitude for the risks they take to save lives. Minnoli watches videos of the applause on social networks.

“I can’t help but think, what about those who fell? And those who are already dead? Said Minnoli. “She was an unnoticed hero. “

Report by Gabriella Borter and Kristina Cooke; Editing by Ross Colvin and Brian Thevenot

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.


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