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CEO responds after Black doctor dies of COVID-19, documenting racist treatment at hospital

Dr. Susan Moore blamed racism in health care for poor treatment and care at IU Health North Hospital.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Hospital room with a bed

INDIANAPOLIS — A central Indiana family is mourning the loss of a mother who documented insufficient treatment at a Carmel hospital before her death.

Dr. Susan Moore tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 29, according to a Dec. 4 Facebook post, where she documented her experience. Moore said she had a respiratory rate in the 30s, a heart rate in the 150s and a fever of 101.5. For reference, a normal resting respiratory rate for an adult is between 12 and 16 breaths per minute, and a normal heart rate is typically between 60 and 100 beats per minute, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Moore said she was admitted to IU Health North Hospital in Carmel and being treated by Dr. Eric Bannec, who told her she did not qualify for being treated with Remdesivir and her chest X-ray was normal. Moore said she had to beg to get the medication and a CT scan, which ultimately showed swelling of the lymph nodes and excess fluid in her lungs.

"He did not even listen to my lungs he didn’t touch me in any way. He performed no physical exam," Moore wrote of Bannec in her Facebook post. "Why do I have to prove that there’s something wrong with me in order for my pain to be treated."

"I put forth, and I maintain, if I was white, I wouldn't have to go through that," Moore said in a video. "This is how Black people get killed — when you send them home and they don't know how to fight for themselves."

Moore said Bannec knew she was a physician, but suggested she should go home and he didn't feel comfortable giving her any more narcotics to treat her pain. She said Bannec told her if she stayed in the hospital, he would send her home the next day at 10 p.m. She said she finally received pain medication hours after she complained of neck pain.

Moore also said she talked to a patient advocate, who told her there wasn't much that could be done, and Moore requested to be sent to another hospital for further treatment.

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Moore continued to document her experience, saying she contacted the chief medical officer of the IU Health system, who assured her they would address her concerns. Moore said the CMO told her there would be diversity training and he was working to get Bannec to apologize to her.

On Dec. 7, Moore said she was released from the hospital and back at home but only for less than 12 hours. She said she spiked a fever over 103 degrees and her blood pressure plummeted, so she went back to the hospital — this time Ascension St. Vincent Carmel.

She was getting "very compassionate care" there, and they offered her pain medication. Her last update on the post was from Dec. 10, saying she was being transferred to ICU.

Moore died Dec. 20, according to the New York Times. She is survived by her 19-year-old son, a graduate of Carmel High School, and her parents, who suffer from dementia.

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13News reached out to IU Health about the incident:

"IU Health North respects and upholds patient privacy and cannot comment on a specific patient, their medical history or conditions. 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."

IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy said he watched Moore's video and is "deeply saddened by her death and the loss her family is feeling. Our hearts are with Dr. Moore’s family and friends."

Murphy also went on to say he is saddened by the experience Moore described in the video.

"After our preliminary medical quality review, I am fully confident in our medical team and their expertise to treat complex medical cases. I do not believe that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care," Murphy said. "I am concerned, however, that we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients. I am worried that our care team did not have the time due to the burden of this pandemic to hear and understand patient concerns and questions."

Click here to read Murphy's full statement.

13News has also tried reaching out to Moore's family but has not yet heard back.

There is a GoFundMe fundraiser to help Moore's son with immediate needs and other expenses. After a strong social media response, the campaign raised more than $115,000 in two days.

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