For years I’ve told people he’s my favorite person in the world. And now he’s gone.
On October 14, 2021, Phil passed away. He really was the most special man.
The Unvaxxed Are Targets
“He never met a stranger and was always at his best and happiest doing something for someone else.”
My brother is deceased. He died. My brother passed away. Phil is dead. None of those words by themselves are difficult to say, yet put together in that particular order I find myself choking on them any time I try to speak them aloud. Worse than that is having to respond to the insensitivity of those whose first question is always, “Was he vaccinated?” Hardest of all, though, is attempting to answer the question of how he died. The polarizing nature of our world today, especially surrounding covid can be very difficult to navigate, and people are downright nasty so I always hesitate to answer. I wish it was as simple as, “he got sick and there was nothing they could do.” That just isn’t the case.
On October 14, 2021, Phil passed away. He really was the most special man. One of those genuinely good people with a huge heart and a capacity for love that you don’t come across often. He never met a stranger and was always at his best and happiest doing something for someone else. I think he felt like it gave him purpose to do good for people, especially for those who haven’t always known good people.
He was 32 years old, but in that short amount of time came to mean a great deal to a lot of people. He mattered. And he deserved so much better. It is for these reasons we feel the need to share his story in hopes that he is still able to help influence some kind of positive change.
I want to be clear that our family is not covid-deniers or anti-vaccine. If you’d asked me six months ago if I believed things like the story you’re about to read were happening to people I would’ve told you I thought you were nuts. Half of our family are vaccinated - some with various adverse side effects. The other half are not vaccinated due to various health concerns - documented history of poor reactivity to vaccinations among them. The day Phil was admitted to the hospital the questions regarding his vaccination status began and it’s still the question I hear the most. Because that seems to be of importance to so many, I will share here that he was not vaccinated. The person who got him sick was vaccinated and went to work while actively symptomatic believing vaccination meant they wouldn’t catch or spread covid.
Phil was admitted to the only hospital on September 23 with what we were told was covid pneumonia. We were shocked because his symptoms had been fairly mild, but his oxygen would drop low enough on a pulse oximeter that his fiancé Ashley, who was in school to become a nurse, was concerned. He went in expecting that he’d receive treatment with some oxygen and possibly an inhaler or steroid. Once admitted to the hospital, Phil and our mom, Pam, spoke with the doctor and right away asked for treatment with Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, and Azithromycin as well as some other vitamins. The doctor was also told that Phil did not want treatment with Remdisivir and did not want to go on a ventilator. The doctor refused the medications Phil requested and stated that the hospital was following the NIH Covid Protocol and those drugs were not approved under those guidelines for Covid treatment. Per the protocol, Phil was started on the steroid Dexamethasone, IV fluids, oxygen, and vitamins (C,D, and zinc).
Ashley and her mom, Patty, both grew concerned about his care when they found out that Phil was being given 6 liters of oxygen, which seemed high. Ashley’s family works very closely with people in the medical field all the time and are no strangers to dealing with the hospital. They had Phil add them to his HIPAA. They spoke with his nurse for the day to work on decreasing his oxygen in order to prevent him from going into further respiratory distress. They explained to me at this point that supplemental oxygen is like a drug and if given too much it can cause further respiratory distress - even irreparable damage to the lungs in extreme cases. The nurse agreed that 6 liters of oxygen seemed high for Phil and worked with them to come up with a plan to wean the supplemental oxygen back down to keep his lungs working. They got him back down through the course of the afternoon and evening to 4.5 or 4 liters. At some point, after the night nurse took over, his oxygen was turned back up to 6 liters. We later found in his charts that they had given Phil morphine that night. As morphine can be a respiratory depressant this could explain turning his oxygen back up, though there is no notation as to why that medication was necessary. We also found out earlier that day they were preparing to discharge Phil and during discharge education, he was asked if he would get vaccinated, Phil declined for the time being. To our knowledge, he never knew they planned to discharge him, and we were never given a reason as to why they decided against doing so.
The next afternoon Phil was moved upstairs to the ICU due to his increasing need for oxygen. They told us his treatment plan would be remaining the same. On the 28th when Ashley called the ICU to speak with Phil’s nurse she was told that Phil was maxed out on all care and at risk of being intubated. Up to that point in the ICU, he had been switching back and forth between heated high-flow oxygen and a bi-pap machine. The night before when Patty had spoken to the nurse on shift, she was told he was stable and still had plenty of wiggle room on both supports. When they questioned his nurse about why his needs had increased so much she refused to state why and told them he was not likely to live because he was unvaccinated. According to the state of Washington, Phil was a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatment. Patty called back to ask about this and why it was never presented as an option and his nurse then stated she didn’t believe Phil was a candidate and that it didn’t matter for him anyway because the hospital wouldn’t administer them. They are for outpatient care only.
“Impactful quote from the following paragraph.”
At this point, Ashley began asking for an updated list of the current medications Phil was taking and wanted to have his flow charts faxed over so she could look at them to see if she could understand better what was happening. The nurse stated that would be too time-consuming and wouldn’t do it. Patty spoke to the lead nurse that afternoon and was told it would be easy for them to get that information by gaining access to his online patient portal which hospital administration granted them very grudgingly.
One of the first progress notes they saw was about Phil declining and mentioned something about him being at risk of “imminent death.” When Ashley, Patty, and my mom, Pam, spoke with his doctor that evening he told them it was very likely that his decline was caused by Remdisivir which Phil eventually consented to take once he was moved to the ICU. They pushed that drug every time they came into his room until he finally agreed after they told him he was likely to die. After one dose Phil developed the liver of an alcoholic. When they questioned the doctor about the note that mentioned “imminent death” they were told that he was failing fast and that covid is a very up and down disease.
On the morning of the 29th, Ashley was told by the nurse that Phil now had some wiggle room on his high flow and BiPAP, which was an improvement from the day prior when he was maxed out. He was actually rebounding from the hit he took from the Remdisivir and his liver levels were coming down, his O2 stat was improving and his inflammatory markers were going down. Ashley did notice in the portal that his white blood cell count was starting to rise and Phil likely had an infection coming on so she asked the nurse to have the doctor look at that and call her and discuss with Phil starting on an antibiotic to address it. She also asked about starting Phil on an inhaled steroid, Budesonide. The nurse stated that she’d leave messages for the doctor and his day nurse regarding both of these things. We were never contacted by the day nurse or the doctor.
Ashley and Patty spoke to Phil that day about having him sign paperwork giving them Power of Attorney with our mom to allow them to help advocate for him so he didn’t feel like he needed to be making all these decisions alone despite the fact that nobody was allowed to come in and be with him. He agreed and they dropped the paperwork off at the hospital.
That afternoon sometime between 3:00 and 3:30 I was with my mom when Phil called her. He told her the doctors were going to intubate him that day. When she asked him how he felt about that he told her that they said it was his only chance to survive.
The Lies, Neglect, Malpractice, and Abuse
“She was informed that she was no longer allowed to call the hospital .”
When he called Ashley to tell her, she got extremely concerned. She asked him why and he told her they said it would just be for a few days so he could rest. She again asked him why and told him his numbers were all looking better and gave him the improvements she’d seen in his stats listed above. His oxygen was at 92%. He did not seem to know any of that information. At that point, his nurse left the room with his phone and began yelling at Ashley telling her she was being unsupportive and wanted to know how and why she had access to his medical information. She yelled that he was tired and she didn’t know because she wasn’t at the bedside to see him. Ashley then asked permission to be able to see him and was told no. Ashley then asked that he be allowed a second opinion as is his right. The nurse agreed that he did have that right but stated that it was too late to stop the process now and that no second opinion would be given.
When asked about the power of attorney paperwork that had been sent for him, the nurse informed Ashley and Patty that they refused to let him sign it because there was no time to get it notarized. Patty informed his nurse that a notary wasn’t needed. Due to the pandemic and emergency orders put in place in Washington State, it was not necessary to have a notary present when he signed the paperwork. All of that info came from our courthouse when they picked up the paperwork. The nurse informed them she didn’t know the current laws and was too busy to look it up before promptly hanging up.
Ashley was forced to call his phone back at that point and when someone picked it up, she asked that they hold the phone where he could hear it so she could tell him she loved him prior to him being intubated. As soon as she told him to stay strong, and that she loved him the phone immediately hung up again.
When Ashely called the hospital that night to check on his status, she was informed that she was no longer allowed to call the hospital and told she could just continue reading his charts for updates. From now on, our mom Pam, was the only one who would be allowed to contact the hospital regarding his care as his power of attorney. I was with her that night when we spoke to his night nurse. He informed us that the intubation procedure had “gone beautifully” and that Phil was essentially in a medically induced coma and resting comfortably. We didn’t find out the truth of it until seeing his charts for the first time months after he had passed.
Phil was restrained, strapped by his wrists to the bed, and intubated with no anesthesia. In his notes, it states that this was necessary because he tried to push the doctors away from him, though he was non-violent and non-combative. After he was intubated he was given a cocktail of several different sedatives, including fentanyl, and a paralytic drug to keep his body from fighting against the ventilator.
The next morning Ashley became incredibly concerned looking at his patient portal as he was not tolerating things as well as his night nurse had told us. At that point, Pam called the hospital and requested a phone call back from his doctor. When he called back he told mom that she needed to prepare for the worst as Phil was declining rapidly and was now experiencing early stages of kidney failure and suggested they start dialysis right away. He was also diagnosed with shock and malnutrition in less than 24 hours on the ventilator. Mom agreed to dialysis and they spoke about the possibility of transferring Phil to a different hospital for treatment on an ECMO machine. Mom agreed to let him be transferred if another hospital had a machine and agreed to take him. She got very emotional and asked the doctor if there was any way they’d agree to allow someone to come in and be with him even though she knew it was against the rules. He did say to her that there were sometimes exceptions and he’d put in the request for her to see if that would be possible.
Finally Allowed to See Him
Once mom got the news that they would allow her in to see Phil, she had already decided that if he could hear anyone, it would likely be the best for him to hear Ashley’s voice, so as much as she’d like to be the one to see him she told Ashley it should be her. When she called to ask the hospital if this would be acceptable we were told that Ashley was now banned from the hospital for harassing the staff. She also asked if they could get permission for our dad, Tom, to see Phil, and that request was denied. Mom would be the only one allowed in. When she got to the hospital the doctor went into Phil’s room with her to tell her again that Phil would most likely not live and that he was still working on getting a transfer to get Phil on ECMO. Mom was invited to come back the next day by his nurse. We were surprised as we thought it would be permission for a one-time visit. When mom asked if she was allowed to come back she was told by the nurse she would be. She was allowed in to visit him once a day from October 1 - October 7.
During that time she witnessed what she described as a lot of unsanitary practices. Nurses would wear one pair of gloves the entire time and go from touching their computers and various things outside the room to touching Phil and the machines and tubes hooked up to him without changing or attempting to sanitize them.
She also witnessed several nurses struggling with his dialysis. There were a lot of struggles with his Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) machine. She said the nurses enjoyed asking questions and hearing stories about Phil while she was there and that one of them admitted to her it definitely made their patients more human to them when they got to see families and hear stories like that. Phil was making improvements during this time. Not huge leaps but baby steps forward, and because of that the two hospitals that were considering him for ECMO both stated he was no longer a candidate. We also discovered during this time that Phil did not do well when placed in the prone position. His blood pressure would drop and his oxygen would go down, and then they’d have to work again to restabilize him every time, which was voiding any progress he was making and kept his body in constant state of shock. It was decided and added to his chart not to continue trying to position him that way because he didn’t tolerate it well. During this time we also started seeing notes from his doctors stating that Phil was vaccinated while previous notes stated that he was unvaccinated.
Sometime the night of October 5th going into the 6th, Phil’s dialysis machine went offline. Nobody can tell us why that happened or the reason it remained offline for close to 3 hours before somebody realized it. This set Phil back even farther due to the stress it had on his body which was on a machine that provided continuous dialysis.
October 6th, he’d been on the ventilator for a week, and the doctor treating him asked for permission to take Phil for a CT scan. This would be very dangerous as he needed to be unhooked from all of his machines (including the continuous dialysis again) in order to get the scan. Within 24 hours of being intubated Phil developed an MRSA infection and the doctors told us he had both MRSA and Covid pneumonia, though they never did get a sample of anything from his lungs. MRSA was found when they swabbed his trachea. We were told by a medical professional not involved in Phil’s treatment that a likely reason for this was that they didn’t do a sterile intubation procedure and the i