A Detroit man is sounding the alarm about the way hospitals are treating Black people who come in with clear symptoms of coronavirus, after his father and grandfather both died from the virus on the same day.
Keith Gambrell relays the harrowing story of what his family is going through to the Detroit Free Press, saying, "I honestly think that's why the death rate for Blacks is so high. It's because we're being pushed to the back and told to go home, but come back if you can make it before you die."
Gambrell's father Gary Fowler, 56, was denied admission to multiple area hospitals after showing up with several coronavirus symptoms — including shortness of breath, fatigue and a fever that wouldn't break. Gambrell says his father was repeatedly turned away, and in one case told he likely had bronchitis. Fowler begged for a COVID-19 test at each urgent care he went to, but was denied. On April 7, he died at home. His autopsy determined he did have coronavirus.
"My dad passed at home, and no one tried to help him," Gambrell said. "He asked for help, and they sent him away. They turned him away."
But that's not where this tragedy ends. Gambrell's grandfather, David Fowler (Gary Fowler's father), died just a few hours before his son, also of the coronavirus. The senior Mr. Fowler lived in a predominantly Black area of Boston, and faced the same issues getting tested.
Gambrell's mother Cheryl Fowler was hospitalized after contracting the deadly virus, presumably from her husband, and was on a ventilator for 10 days. Thankfully, she's on her way to making a full recovery, but Gambrell says they faced the same issues his father did in getting proper medical attention.
"Before they even looked at my mother, there was a young Caucasian lady complaining about sushi she got from GrubHub that upset her stomach, and they swooped her in the back like she had coronavirus," Keith said. "But my mom, she had all the symptoms, and they tell her just go home. That makes no sense. ... They helped a girl who ate bad seafood over someone with all the signs of needing medical help. I felt like they sent my mother home to die."
Gambrell and his siblings were given a prescription for coronavirus tests by a family friend who is a doctor, and both he and his younger brother Ross, 19, also tested positive. His two other siblings were negative.
Despite his grief and fear, Gambrell is sharing his story in hopes that something will change. "Why isn't there enough testing in the areas that are mostly impacted, which are Black areas?" he is asking. "Why are we being pushed to go home to die around our family and loved ones? That's traumatizing in itself to wake up and your husband next to you is dead after you just talked to him an hour ago."
He continues, "This coronavirus is gonna cause so much PTSD for people. It's sad. There's going to be a major fallout after this. It's not right at all. ... I don't try to put color on things and say, 'Oh this is Black or this is white.' I don't do that with anything in my life, but when you see it, you have to call it how it is."
Read the full story here.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Photo by Jonas Güttler/picture alliance via Getty Images
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