Dr. Frank Gabrin contracted the disease because he didn't have access to Personal Protective Equipment. His friends and family hope his death will galvanize the state to act.
Our public health system is currently being held up on the tired backs of our dedicated doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. While they do everything they can to support sick patients, state and central governments seem to be doing little to support them. They are facing massive shortages in Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and hazmat suits, putting them at risk of catching the deadly Coronavirus. The more health workers who catch the disease, the fewer there are to help battle the pandemic. Most recently, an ER doctor succumbed to the disease in his husband's arms. He displayed signs of Coronavirus a week prior to his death, CNN reports.
Dr. Frank Pinchas Gabrin, an emergency room doctor in New Jersey, knew the risks of continuing to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he continued to visit the hospital despite the grave risk. Unfortunately, he contracted the virus while serving at work. His symptoms allegedly escalated rather quickly. A week after he first displayed signs of Coronavirus, he passed away in his husband's arms, his close friend Debra Vaselech Lyons shared in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time. She hopes his death serves as an important reminder that the state must care for those who are caring for our sick.
"It's not about the outcome, you don't get to save every patient, but it's about what you do with the outcome," she said Gabrin believed. "He lost his life needlessly because if he'd had the equipment - he's a professional, he knew how to protect himself. We need to make something good come from this." Gabrin's grieving husband, Arnold Vargas, also participated in the interview alongside Vaselech Lyons. Though he could barely speak through his tears, he wanted everyone to know that his husband's death could have been prevented if he just had the equipment he needed to keep him safe.
Gabrin, Vargas revealed, was a two-time cancer survivor. This could have meant that his immune system was compromised. Once Gabrin contracted the disease, "it went from manageable to unmanageable overnight," his husband shared. According to Vaselech Lyons, paramedics tried to save him for an hour - to no avail. He was already gone. The ER doctor knew what was at risk when he went to work, but he had trained "his whole life" to be on the frontlines and save people. Therefore, he did not look at not going in to work as an option. What he hadn't trained for, nonetheless, was being on the frontlines of an epidemic without the equipment he needed. "It's like asking a soldier to go to the frontline and giving them nothing. Nothing to do their job," Vaselech Lyons affirmed.
At present, healthcare workers across the United States are being forced to ration their protective gear. Some workers have even resorted to using gear multiple times though they are considered single-use. The gaps in supply are dangerous for health professionals, who need to protect themselves in order to prevent the further spread of Coronavirus, but are also unsafe for sick patients. Some hospitals reportedly do not have enough ventilators and hospital beds to treat the patients admitted to their facilities. Now, Gabrin's husband has also contracted the virus. He is mourning his husband's loss while trying to recuperate. Vaselech Lyons affirmed, "I don't think we are seeing that we have selfish healthcare workers right now, they're doing what they can even though they are putting themselves and most importantly their families at risk as well."