A nursing home patient in Michigan with the coronavirus asked Alexa on an Amazon Echo device for help before she died, her sister said.
LouAnn Dagen died Saturday, shortly after she was transferred to a hospital in Grand Rapids. She was 66.
She was one of 31 residents and five staff members who tested positive for the virus at the nursing home, Metron of Cedar Springs, which is now called Mission Point, according to the facility.
Paul Pruitt, director of operations at Metron, said Dagen was a resident at the nursing home for 10 years and “had never been transferred to the hospital prior to the complications that rapidly developed as a result of COVID-19.”
Pruitt said she was getting “excellent care,” and nursing home staff were following both her advance directives and clinical practice guidelines to manage her pain and symptoms.
“Once those symptoms progressed rapidly, and at the advice of her medical team, she was immediately sent to the hospital,” Pruitt said.
Residents with the coronavirus are quarantined away from the rest of the facility’s population, Pruitt said.
The medical examiner’s office said Dagen’s death was caused by diabetes, hypertension and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to her sister, Penny.
LouAnn had two strokes in 2008 that left her paralyzed on her left side, her sister said.
“She was a very talented girl. She played the piano and the organ. She sang,” Penny Dagen told NBC News. “She was a ventriloquist. She played the guitar.”
Penny was unable to visit LouAnn in person after the nursing home, like others around the country, restricted visitors due to the pandemic. So, Alexa became LouAnn’s primary communications tool with her sister.
“She could call her sister through the device, and they communicated often,” Pruitt said. “It was a very positive part of her life which we supported fully.”
It wasn’t until Monday that Penny discovered the recordings from the Amazon device in her sister’s room at Metron.
Penny, who lives in Sparta, about 15 miles north of Grand Rapids, said she believes that the nursing home could have taken preventative measures sooner to slow the spread of the virus, but she doesn’t fault them.
“That’s all in the past now,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do about it now. What’s done is done.”
There were 40 or so recordings on the Amazon device over the last three to four days of her sister’s life, Penny said.
In one of the exchanges, LouAnn said: “Alexa, help me.”
In another she said: “I am in pain. I have to find a way to relieve it.”
She also asked Alexa: “Can you help me cope with pain?” and said: “Oh, Alexa, I’m going to hurt.”
“I just felt bad because I couldn’t help her,” Penny said Wednesday through tears.
She said she finds some peace in knowing that her only sibling is no longer suffering.
“She’s up there with my mom and dad and she’s not in pain anymore,” Penny said. “That’s the only thing that keeps me going.”
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