Nurse doing extra shifts caught Covid - inquest

time:2023-06-01 09:31:14 source:CBS News

A hospital nurse died after getting Covid in the early stages of the pandemic, an inquest has been told.

Gareth Roberts, 65, from Aberdare, was working extra shifts at Llandough Hospital in Cardiff in the period before his death in April 2020.

He had late onset type 2 diabetes but was generally in good health, the inquest in Pontypridd heard.

A friend has previously claimed he "paid the ultimate price" for a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Gareth's wife Linda told the coroner in a statement her husband was working long hours as a nurse on a single ward in the hospital in March, getting up at 05:00 and not returning home until 20:30.

His only contact with anyone outside of work at that time, she said, was taking his mother to church and shopping for groceries once a week.

In his work on the ward Mrs Roberts said the only protective equipment nurses routinely wore were "plastic aprons, paper masks and rubber gloves".

She told the inquest staff were not routinely tested for Covid in the hospital at that time.

Mrs Roberts said she did not know where else he could have got the disease except from the hospital.

"If appropriate risk assessments had been carried out, he might have been withdrawn from the front line," she added.

Mr Roberts, who worked as a nurse across Cardiff and Vale health board for more than 40 years, first started to complain about having to clear his throat frequently, his wife said.

The following day he was sent home from work with a fever and a cough.

He spent the next few days sleeping a lot, Mrs Roberts said.

Five days later, the inquest was told, he became increasingly unwell and was unable to use the stairs.

Mrs Roberts said he was "mumbling, confused and agitated".

His condition deteriorated until he was taken by paramedics to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil on 2 April.

The following day he was taken to the intensive care unit in a critical condition where he was sedated and intubated.

Mrs Roberts told the coroner on the night of 10 April, she received a call from the hospital saying she should come as quickly as she could.

When she arrived she said she was given full PPE and taken to see her husband.

"They told me his kidneys had stopped functioning, his heart stopped. Everything stopped while I was there," she said of her husband, who was also a father and grandfather.

Mrs Roberts said she had been unwell in January 2020 for three weeks with a temperature, cough and a loss of taste.

"In hindsight it was likely I had Covid, but at the time it didn't cross my mind," she said.

She said she did not believe she gave Covid to her husband because of the length of time between when she was ill and when he started having symptoms.

Jodie Davies was working as a healthcare support worker with Mr Roberts on 25 March 2020.

She told the court there were patients on the ward with coughs, but she was unaware any patients had Covid.

If any patients showed symptoms, she said senior nurses were informed, but she could not recall any patients being moved from the ward.

The inquest heard the ward was set to close, with permanent staff moving to a ward for patients with suspected Covid.

Ms Davies said she had asked Mr Roberts if he would be going, but he replied: "No love, my age and diabetes are against me.

"I look after my grandson so I can't risk it."

This, she told the court, was the last time she spoke to him.

"So those words stick in my head," she said.

Ms Davies said she, Mr Roberts and another nurse were showing possible symptoms of Covid.

Mr Roberts had taken each of their temperatures, Ms Davies said, adding that one person's temperature was high, but she could not remember whose.

"We were all worried about any symptoms, but none of the symptoms shown on that day were symptoms of Covid at the time," she said.

Four days later she said she became breathless and had "a crushing feeling" in her chest, which, under the guidelines at the time, meant she should have taken a week off.

She told the inquest she still had Covid symptoms when she returned to work and that she developed asthma and long Covid.

She could not remember any training on how PPE should be worn.

The inquest heard Mr Roberts was hard working and rarely ill.

Sandra Coles manages the bank - a register of staff willing to work extra shifts - for Cardiff and Vale health board.

Mr Roberts was one of the bank nurses.

She told the inquest information about PPE would have been relayed to bank workers by Facebook and word-of-mouth as they would not be able to use the health board intranet.

Training sessions were being carried out on wards, she said, and advice at the time would not have altered the PPE recommended for Mr Roberts in a patient-facing area.

Full Covid risk assessments for staff were not introduced until June 2020.

Rhian Aguilar was among three other ward staff who said they became ill with Covid at the same time.

She told the inquest on the day Mr Roberts was sent home from work she noticed he was "flushed" and told him: "I hope you haven't got Covid."

He replied he had a temperature over 38C but had not gone home because he was approaching the end of his shift.

Ms Aguilar told the inquest handovers between shifts took place in small rooms with five members of staff who would not be wearing masks.

At the time, she said, patients were not routinely Covid-tested on the ward.

She added that one patient was coughing on the ward, but he died before he was tested.

The inquest continues.

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