Florida nurse treating COVID-19 patients dies from apparent drug overdose

Florida

(WPTV/NBC) – He was on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis and helped dozens of people. However, the family of the Florida nurse said the pressures of the pandemic proved to be too much.

“He was proud that we now call our nurses heroes.”

Ron Coddington knew his son William was destined to help people.

“As he was growing up he wanted to take care of the animals and things like that so you knew he wanted to help others,” Ron said.

His instinct was right. William became a registered nurse, choosing to help those most vulnerable in the intensive care unit. Then a pandemic hit.

“Nurses don’t go into that profession to see people die,” he said.

Ron said William didn’t hesitate to work in the COVID-19 ward at JFK Medical Center’s north campus in West Palm Beach.

“One of the things he expressed was the haunting sound of the alarms on the respirator and described it as trying to pump air into a brick,” he said.

Then there were fears of exposure.

“He had to intubate a patient and aerosol saliva ends up in the air when that’s going on and his face shield fell off, but he was working with a doctor as an assistant and he couldn’t stop to pick up his face shield,” Ron said.

He said fears and isolation led William back to opiates.

His father said he become dependent after having a major surgery in his 20s. After five years of sobriety, on April 25 Ron said William was found dead in a car from a possible drug overdose.

“I am devastated about the loss of this young man,” said Dr. Nikki Davis, a clinical psychologist.

Davis said frontline medical workers aren’t only battling the COVID-19 crisis.

“I believe and have believed that there is a crisis happening in mental health in the medical field. But if we begin to emotionally shutdown feel like we don’t have a lot of emotion at all that’s a really important sign,” she said.

“I think we need to realize in the case of healthcare workers sometimes they are too strong to (reach out for help), they are the strong people there and I hope they understand that we don’t think that’s a weakness,” Ron said.

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