“I don’t trust this hospital,” Dr. Susan Moore said from her hospital bed in Indiana, an oxygen tube hooked up to her nose. “That is not how you treat patients.”
Moore, an Indianapolis physician who was being treated for COVID-19 at Indiana University Hospital North, died of the virus this week. Earlier this month, she posted a video to Facebook to share that she believed she was not receiving proper medical care because she was Black.
Moore tested positive for the coronavirus on November 29 and said her symptoms included a high respiratory rate, high heart rate, high fever and coughing up blood. She described the uphill battle she faced in getting treatment from White doctors and nurses in the hospital, including begging for the antiviral drug Remdesivir, waiting hours for pain medication, and demanding a CT scan of her chest to prove her pain was real.
Her scan detected pulmonary infiltrates and inflamed lymph nodes, she said, but she continued to wait hours for pain medication.
“All I know is that I am in intense pain,” Moore said in the heartbreaking video, adding that the doctor downplayed her pain. “[The doctor] made me feel like I was a drug addict, and he knew I was a physician.”
She spoke to a patient advocate, who she says told her nothing could be done. She also asked to be transferred to a different hospital, but was told she should just go home.
“This is how Black people get killed,” Moore said. “When you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves.”
As a doctor, Moore clearly knew what to ask for, but struggled to continue advocating for herself as her condition worsened.
“I put forward and I maintain, if I was White, I wouldn’t have to go through that,” Moore said. “And [the doctor] never came back and apologized.”
Moore was eventually sent home, but less than 12 hours later, she spiked a fever and her blood pressure plummeted, so she returned to the hospital.
A photo of Dr. Susan Moore shared by Alicia Sanders and Rashad Elby, who organized a GoFundMe for her family.
“Those people were trying to kill me. Clearly, everyone has to agree they discharge me way too soon,” she wrote. “They are now treating me for a bacterial pneumonia as well as 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 ravages 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.
According to a GoFundMe set up to cover her family’s expenses, Moore’s 19-year-old son, Henry Muhammed, is “in good spirits” yet now must cope with her death as well as his grandparents’ dementia. Dr. Moore had been the sole provider of the family.
Dr. Susan Moore and her 19-year-old son, Henry Muhammed.
Henry was previously enrolled at Indiana University to study biochemistry and mathematics, but put his schooling on hold to care for 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,” 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 was unapologetic about it.”
In Moore’s Facebook post, she said that the hospital’s chief medical officer told her staff will receive diversity training, and that she would receive an apology from the doctor that was treating her.
“We are very sad to hear about the death of Dr. Susan Moore and our hearts go out to her friends and family,” the hospital said in a statement Wednesday.
“As an organization committed to equity and reducing racial disparities in healthcare, we take accusations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation. Treatment options are often agreed upon and reviewed by medical experts from a variety of specialties, and we stand by the commitment and expertise of our caregivers and the quality of care delivered to our patients every day.”