Caitlin Tan Published

Two W.Va. Nurses Pass Away From COVID-19

Mental Hospital

Two nurses have passed away in West Virginia due to COVID-19 — the first nurses to do so in the state — and this comes after healthcare workers pushed for better working conditions.

A nurse who worked for Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, Jeannette Williams Parker, passed away Sept. 30, according to a West Virginia Nurses Association press release. An unnamed second nurse also passed away who worked at Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington, a state run psychiatric ward, according to an announcement made at Gov. Jim Justice’s Wednesday press conference.

“This was one of ours, and we are deeply saddened,” Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said.

This comes after Bateman Hospital employees picketed for better working conditions in early September. The unionized employees argued the hospital is understaffed and overworked. Bateman primarily serves short and long-term patients with psychological disorders.

As of Sept. 16, 213 nurses had passed away nationwide from COVID-19, according to National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the country. The union cites the federal government’s slow response to providing health care workers with proper personal protective equipment.

Shortages of protective equipment were reported all across the country through mid-summer. Communities across West Virginia formed coalitions to hand make and deliver face masks to local healthcare facilities, although handmade face masks are not equivalent to medical grade N-95 masks.

West Virginia’s National Guard now has a six-month supply of PPE and has reported no significant shortages.