An Indiana doctor has died from COVID-19 complications just weeks after reporting racial mistreatment on behalf of the hospital.
The New York Times reports that Dr. Susan Moore, a Black doctor, was refused adequate care and gaslighted about her pain from her white male doctor while admitted at the Indiana University North Hospital. In a now viral video posted to Facebook, Moore shared her experience, documenting her positive coronavirus diagnosis on November 29, untimely discharge, and her eventual return back to the hospital. She noted that she had to beg her physician to treat her with the antiviral drug remdesivir as well as a CT scan of her neck and chest due to all the pain she was feeling. The doctor however, initially declined to do both and instead questioned Moore’s symptoms and suggested she should be discharged instead. The doctor would eventually oblige but only after medical tests revealed Moore did indeed have new pulmonary infiltrates in her lungs that warranted necessary and immediate attention.
“I put forth, and I maintain, if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that,” Moore said in her video. “I don’t trust this hospital, and I’m asking to be transferred. These people wanted to send me home with new pulmonary infiltrates and all kinds of lymphadenopathy in my neck. This is how Black people get killed. When you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves. I have to talk to somebody, maybe the media, somebody, to let people know how I’m being treated up in this place.”
Unfortunately for Moore, this wasn’t the first time she had to be her own advocate for her health. Nor is this the first time racial health disparities, particularly as they relate to Black and brown communities and the coronavirus, have been put on display.
From The New York Times:
She was no stranger to the challenges of getting proper medical care, said Mr. Muhammed, her 19-year-old son. She had sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that attacks the lungs, and was frequently treated at hospitals. “Nearly every time she went to the hospital she had to advocate for herself, fight for something in some way, shape or form, just to get baseline, proper care,” he said.
Dr. Moore’s case has generated outrage and renewed calls to grapple with biased medical treatment of Black patients. Voluminous research suggests that Black patients often receive treatment inferior to their white counterparts, particularly when it comes to relieving pain. “It’s had a huge impact,” said Dr. Christina Council, a primary care physician in Maryland who is Black, of Dr. Moore’s experience. “Sometimes when we think about medical bias it seems so far removed. We can sit there and say, ‘OK, it can happen to someone that may be poorer.’ But when you actually see it happen to a colleague and you’re seeing her in the hospital bed and literally pleading for her life, it just hits a different way and really hits home and says, ‘Wow, we need to do something.’”
Before Moore’s death, she revealed that she had voiced her concerns to the hospital system’s chief medical officer, who then promised better care and a new doctor. Though things began to look up, Moore still felt she wasn’t receiving the best care possible. On December 7 after being discharged, she was admitted back into a different hospital less than 12 hours later where she was treated for both bacterial pneumonia and Covid-19 pneumonia. She would ultimately succumb from those complications weeks later.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to cover the costs of funeral expenses for Moore’s son and elderly parents who suffer from dementia. “Susan was a phenomenal doctor,” the campaign states. “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.”
“This fundraiser is to assist her family with immediate needs, which are currently housing and food, as she was the sole provider for her son and parents. This page will be updated as more needs arise, including funeral costs, moving expenses, and incidentals.”