Frontline medical workers remain at risk despite the new covid-19 vaccines. Thousands have died caring for others sickened with the virus. And Black healthcare workers are dying at a disproportionate rate.
On Nov. 18, 43-year-old Maisha Oni Muhammad-Brinkley, a respiratory therapist from Texas, died of coronavirus. She was a mother of four.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there have been 287,010 cases of covid-19 in healthcare workers and 953 deaths. Compared to other countries, the U.S. has the highest number of infections and deaths are significantly higher for Black healthcare workers, Forbes reported.
A frontline worker, Muhammad-Brinkley was well-liked by her patients who called her “The Breathing Lady.”
“She took care of a lot of homeless people that actually would speak to her when we would be out, close to that area,” her husband Reginald Brinkley told NBC News. “They were like, ‘that’s my friend. That’s ‘The Breathing Lady.’”
Muhammad-Brinkley worked at Medical City Dallas hospital for eight years. During the pandemic, she was a front-line worker — working 12-hour shifts in the emergency room and covid unit. As a respiratory therapist, she was responsible for assessing patients’ breathing and putting those with severe cases on a ventilator, Black News reported.
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Muhammad-Brinkley tested positive for the coronavirus two days after experiencing symptoms at work. Her condition worsened and she was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator.
Her husband of 24 years also tested positive but recovered after battling a 100-degree-plus fever for three weeks.
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“She told me to take care of our babies and she said that she was trying to get well. She said, ‘I promise you, Brink. I’m trying. I’m trying. I want to come home,’” her husband said. “During that time, she wrote letters to our children and to myself and she wanted for me to read it to our children at her memorial service.”
Muhammad-Brinkley left behind her husband and their four children, ages 23, 19, 17, and 14.
A GoFundMe has been set up in her honor. It has so far raised more than $15,000.