Black doctor dies of COVID-19 after complaining of racist treatment
"I don't trust this hospital," said Dr. Susan Moore out of her Indiana hospital bed with an oxygen tube attached to her nose. "That's not how you treat patients."
Moore, an Indianapolis doctor who was being treated for COVID-19 at Indiana University Hospital North, died from the virus this week. She posted a video on Facebook earlier this month to share that she believed she was not receiving adequate medical care because she was black.
Moore tested positive for the coronavirus on Nov. 29 and said her symptoms included high breathing rate, high heart rate, high fever and coughing up blood. She described the tough battle she faced while being treated by white doctors and nurses in the hospital, including begging for the antiviral drug remdesivir, waiting for pain medication, and asking for a CT scan of her chest to prove that her pain was real.
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Her scan found lung infiltrates and inflamed lymph nodes, she said, but she continued to wait hours for pain medication.
"I just know I'm in a lot of pain," Moore said in the heartbreaking video, adding that the doctor downplayed her pain. "[The doctor] made me feel like a drug addict and he knew I was a doctor."
Dr. Susan Moore died of COVID today, but how she died is unacceptable. She posted a video of abuse on Facebook from an Indiana hospital days before she died. "This is how black people get killed when you send them home and they don't know how to fight for themselves" https://t.co/iSF8rs7qmI pic.twitter.com/3a8qE6DhN3
- Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) December 22, 2020
She spoke to a patient lawyer who told her that nothing could be done. She also asked to be transferred to another hospital, but was told to just go home.
"That's how blacks get killed," said Moore. "When you send them home and they don't know how to fight for themselves."
As a doctor, Moore knew exactly what to ask, but tried to keep standing up when her condition worsened.
"I've argued and I say if I was white I wouldn't have to go through this," said Moore. "And [the doctor] never came back and apologized."
Moore was eventually sent home, but less than 12 hours later she developed a fever and her blood pressure dropped, so she was returned to the hospital.
A photo of Dr. Susan Moore, shared by Alicia Sanders and Rashad Elby, who organized a GoFundMe for their family. / Credit: GoFundMe
"These people tried to kill me. Of course, everyone must agree that they fire me far too soon," she wrote. "You are now treating me for bacterial pneumonia and Covid pneumonia."
Moore died this week after being admitted to another hospital.
Moore's story has become all too common for black Americans as COVID-19 disproportionately devastates black communities across the country. Black Americans are 4.7 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than white Americans and three times more likely to die from the virus.
Moore's 19-year-old son Henry Muhammed is "in a good mood" but is now facing her death and his grandparents' dementia, according to a GoFundMe set up to cover her family's expenses. Dr. Moore had been the family's only provider.
Dr. Susan Moore and her 19 year old son Henry Muhammed. / Credit: GoFundMe
Henry was previously enrolled at Indiana University to study biochemistry and math, but his school was suspended to take care of his mother and grandparents. A GoFundMe update said that some of the funds will be used to ensure his schooling continues.
"Susan was a phenomenal doctor," the organizers said in a statement. "She loved practicing medicine, she loved being a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she loved helping people, and she didn't apologize for it."
On Moore's Facebook post, she said that the hospital's chief doctor had told her staff that they would receive diversity training and that she would receive an apology from the doctor treating her.
"We are very saddened by the death of Dr. Susan Moore and our hearts go out to her friends and family," the hospital said in a statement on Wednesday.
"As an organization committed to promoting equity and the reduction of racial differences in health care, we take allegations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation. Treatment options are often agreed and reviewed by medical experts in various specialties, and we stand by the commitment and expertise of our caregivers and the quality of our patients' daily care. "
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