Lying in a hospital bed laboring for breath despite being on oxygen, Dr. Susan Moore, a 52-year-old Black physician, stared into her cell phone and recorded a video alleging her battle with COVID-19 was made worse by the treatment she received from a doctor at a suburban Indianapolis, Indiana, hospital.
Moore died on Sunday from complications of coronavirus, her son said.
She had claimed that a physician treating her repeatedly ignored her complaints that she was in excruciating pain, and wanted to send her home. That doctor, she alleged, initially told her he felt uncomfortable giving her painkillers and “made me feel like a drug addict,” she said on social media.
“This is how Black people get killed. When you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves,” Moore said in the Dec. 4 video she posted on her Facebook page from Indiana University Health North Hospital in Carmel, Indiana, her hometown.
“I had to talk to somebody, maybe the media, to let people know how I’m being treated up in this place. I put forth, and I maintain, if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that,” Moore, who tested positive for COVID in late November, said in her Facebook post.
She added that she no longer trusted the hospital and that she was asking to be transferred.
Moore’s case appears to highlight a concern health-care advocates say has been exposed by the pandemic: allegations that Black people and minorities suffering from COVID receive inferior medical treatment compared to whites.
Black people have also been disproportionately affected and have died from coronavirus more than their white counterparts. An analysis by the Brookings Institution released earlier this year showed that Black people with COVID have died at 3.6 times the rate of white people.
Moore’s 19-year-old son, Henry Muhammed, told that his mother tested positive for COVID on Nov. 29 and went to IU North because she had been to the hospital before and it was close to her home.
He said his mother was discharged on Dec. 7 but was only home for 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, her temperature had spiked to 103 degrees and her blood pressure fell to 80/60. Normal blood pressure is generally 120/80.
Her son said that while his mother received vastly better treatment, her health gradually grew worse and she was placed on a ventilator. She died at 1 a.m. on Sunday, he said.
Muhammed said the treatment his mother alleged she received at IU North Health angers him.
“I am outraged beyond words … because if what my mom thinks was true and that it was racism, and they neglected her because of that, nobody should go through that. It puts the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ to a whole new context,” he said.
“My mom was legitimately very scared. I haven’t seen my mom that scared in a long, long time. She was concerned by the lack of empathy from the doctor. She didn’t feel like the doctor cared about her or her health, or whether or not she was getting better,” he said, adding that his mother would call him daily from IU North hospital, often in pain and in tears.