A Florida nurse was found dead in his car from a suspected overdose after struggling with the trauma of treating coronavirus patients, friends and relatives said.
William Coddington, a nurse at JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach, was tormented by the cases of fatally ill COVID-19 patients in his intensive care unit, friends and family told Reuters.
“What you or I may find as upsetting, or bothersome – that life could be devastating to him,” friend Robert Marks told NBC Miami.
A recovering addict, the 32-year-old was unable to go to his 12-step recovery meetings in person during the pandemic.
“He couldn’t meet with his sponsor,” his mom Carolyn Coddington said. “And his friends, nobody wanted to see him because he worked in a hospital, not even to sit 6 feet apart.”
In his final weeks, William began to retreat more into himself, speaking less to his mother, whom he lived with, and spending more time alone in his room.
“It was despair … creeping in,” his friend Skye Alexander said.
Coddington had complained in mid-April on Facebook about the lack of PPE in the hospital as he worked on a coronavirus floor.
“In my hospital we are rationing 1 n95 mask for my whole shift,” Coddington wrote. “We are running out of gowns. We are having people make makeshift face shields that end up snapping.”
Days before he died, his face shield fell off while he was helping intubate a patient, his father said.
“He literally felt things splash on his face,” Ronald recalled his son telling him.
Family and friends said they began to check in more often with him, fearing that he may relapse from his decade-long battle with opioid addiction and other substance abuse.
“You are so needed right now by others. You can be great,” his father wrote to him in text messages on April 1. “Please please bury me some day. Don’t make me bury you … I love you.”
After getting into a fight, his mother checked his phone location on April 25 and saw that he wasn’t at the hospital.
She drove to a Deerfield Beach hotel parking lot, where she found him dead from what the family believes was an overdose.
His father said police told him they obtained a video showing his son sitting in his car when another vehicle pulls up and “some kind of exchange” occurs that he suspects was a drug deal.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it is still investigating his death but does not suspect foul play.
Kathryn Walton, a spokeswoman for JFK Medical Center, declined to comment on William’s death, but said the hospital’s goal was always to protect employees.
She said the hospital had an “adequate supplies of PPE” and is “taking steps to conserve PPE because we do not know what our future needs will be.”
She also noted that the hospital offers mental health counseling by phone and video, but William’s family doesn’t know if he tried those services.
With Post wires