Hospital workers in Brooklyn who treated city’s first coronavirus fatality went into isolation

Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. (Photo via Google Maps)

The first coronavirus patient in New York City to die from complications of the illness — an 82-year-old woman from Ridgewood, Queens who succumbed Saturday morning at Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Heights Medical Center — sent the medical personnel who first treated her into precautionary quarantines, according to the hospital’s CEO.

None of the personnel, which includes Wyckoff ambulance workers along with emergency staff and physicians, has shown any symptoms of COVID-19, Ramon Rodriguez told amNewYork Metro Saturday. They will return to work at the hospital the quarantine is lifted on Wednesday, March. 17, he said. All those asked to self-quarantine were sent home with pay. 

Rodriguez said a “good amount” of personnel on duty the day the patient arrived at Wyckoff Heights, March 3, went into self-quarantine; he did not specify the exact number due to privacy concerns.

About 250 people are seen in a day at Wyckoff’s emergency room, according to Rodriguez; when flu season hits, that number can spike up to 300 a day. There are about 100 people who work in Wyckoff’s adult and pediatric emergency departments, which are connected. At any given moment, there are roughly 40 doctors, nurses, physician extenders and residents are on the ER floor. 

“We have one of the busiest emergency rooms of any community hospital,” Rodriguez said. “The only hospitals that see more people than we do are very large teaching hospitals.” 

The 82-year-old woman had advanced emphysema and passed at around 3 a.m Saturday morning. It is unclear exactly why the woman was transported to the hospital by ambulance on March 3, but Rodriguez said it could have been because she was having difficulty breathing.

Many patients with advanced emphysema suffer through periods where they are unable to breathe. She was cared for by a daughter who lived with her. 

After the woman tested positive for COVID-19, her daughter placed herself in quarantine at home and is asymptomatic, Rodriguez said. Health officials are still trying to determine how the woman contracted the virus. 

Shortly after the 82-year-old arrived at Wyckoff’s emergency room, Rodriguez noted, she was placed in isolation in a negative pressure room. Only one other person who received care in the same emergency room has tested positive for COVID-19, and they entered the hospital 10 days after the 82-year-old woman arrived to the hospital and were transferred to another facility four days later.

No other patients have tested positive for the virus, Rodriguez added.