I felt I needed to write a letter to Governor Cuomo regarding our family’s experience with Covid 19. I want this to be a call to action to make changes in how this terrible disease is being handled.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Please share.

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I am writing to share the story of my husband, William Mantell, who died from Covid related pneumonia on April 17, 2020.

Bill was a healthcare worker on the front lines. He wasn’t a nurse or physician working in a hospital, but a pharmacist at a small community pharmacy that he owned for 31 years, in Rochdale Village, NY. As you know, retail pharmacies are deemed essential businesses by New York State and are expected to remain open. Bill did as he was instructed, where exposure to the public is not optional, and kept his pharmacy running to serve his patients and community.

Within the first week of this crisis, he sold out of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant sprays, masks, gloves, alcohol, thermometers, and even Tylenol. There were no cleaning supplies left on the shelves and it was becoming nearly impossible to replenish those items. Not only did Bill have limited product to sell to his patients and customers, but also there were very few supplies to clean the pharmacy with, and he had zero Personal Protective Equipment to keep himself and his employees safe. Bill was running a small business and he wasn’t in a position to quickly install plastic barriers at cash registers and other protective measures throughout the store that large corporate pharmacies had the resources to do.

In the beginning of this crisis, I was glued to the news at all times. I heard news stories about the nurses and physicians in hospitals who were begging for PPE to protect themselves. I listened to your news conferences where you asked the president for help obtaining equipment and PPE for those on the front lines in hospitals. I don’t recall the push for PPE for the workers on the front lines who aren’t in hospitals: the retail pharmacists, delivery people, grocery store employees, workers in essential factories, etc. If New York State is having difficulty procuring these items, how are small businesses supposed to? I feel like my husband was left to fend for himself. If Bill had the PPE earlier, would it have changed his outcome?

I want to bring to your attention the difficulty Bill went through to try to have a Covid 19 test scheduled. He called the testing hotline on March 28th and was told someone would get back to him within two days. Two days later he called again and was reassured that he was “still on the list”. Three and a half weeks later, on April 22nd, the NYS department of health called to schedule a test; this was five days after he died. Is it acceptable to have a person who is sick wait almost a month for a test? Why wasn’t his personal physician allowed to order a test? How did those waiting on lines at the drive through sites have their tests scheduled? If Bill had been tested and treated earlier, would it have changed his outcome?

It was extremely difficult for my family and me (and I am sure for every other family who has a sick loved one) to know that Bill was in the hospital suffering alone, with no family or friends by his side to support him. I understand the reasons why and I understand that the nurses have such a high patient load that they are often unable to extend the extra human elements they normally give those in their care. I know Bill was anxious, scared, and exhausted trying to take care of his needs on his own. If even one family member was allowed at their own risk, completely gowned from head to toe, to be there with him, to ensure that he laid on his stomach, did his breathing exercises, helped with the side effects caused by his medications and let him know that he wasn’t alone, would it have changed his outcome?

My story is one of nearly 17,000 in New York State. I am helpless in a time when there is so much uncertainty in the world. I have lost my best friend and my daughters have lost their father. I am calling on you, Governor Cuomo, to continue leading our state through this challenging time. Small businesses on the front lines need PPE to safely serve our citizens during this pandemic, and our loved ones need someone by their side to fight and survive.

In loving memory of my husband Bill,

Carole Mantell

2 Responses

  1. […] William Mantell, age unknown, Pharmacist, Variety Drugs, Rochdale Village, Queens, New York […]

  2. We need top of line generic pain medicine like malenkrodt! Not some fake chalk , they have cut our meds to nothing, so the tiny amount we get needs to be the top quality generic period!!!!!!!!!!

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