A Florida nurse was found dead in his vehicle after volunteering at JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach to treat coronavirus patients specifically.
William Coddington, 32, was struggling to cope with the fear, trauma, and isolation of working on the frontlines during the pandemic, The Guardian reports. His family is now trying to establish whether his death is the latest case of a healthcare worker taking their own life during the global crisis.
Coddington was found in the parking lot of a West Palm Beach hotel after his mother, Carolyn, tracked his phone. His family confirmed that their son battled an opioid addiction since his early 20s and struggled with social distancing restrictions. He had been committed to his ongoing recovery from addiction but felt the virtual sobriety meetings were not as beneficial as those held in person.
“He couldn’t meet with his sponsor,” his mother said, “his friends … nobody wanted to see him because he worked in a hospital, not even to sit 6ft apart.”
Coddington’s father said, “you could see in his eyes, this was extremely stressful” and recalled tragic stories his son shared with him.
“I know it was hard for him. He had one case where he was doing FaceTime with a lady whose family couldn’t be there. It was the last time she talked to her family,” the dad said. When he visited his father, he would stand in the yard and not let him get close since he worked firsthand with COVID-19 patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Colleagues and friends confirmed he had been stressed and was worried about the inadequate protection. He voiced his stress through texts and social media.
“In my hospital, we are rationing one N95 mask for my whole shift,” Coddington previously wrote. “We are running out of gowns. We are having people make makeshift face shields that end up snapping.” However, he did not blame the hospital for the shortages of protection gear, stating there was a widespread shortage.
Coddington’s death is not the first among healthcare workers. Last month, Lorna Breen, an emergency room doctor at New York’s Presbyterian-Allen hospital, took her life after battling the virus on the frontlines and as a former patient.
William Coddington’s mom mourned her son in a Facebook post, saying she had “no words to express myself over the death of my smart, witty, kind, loving son…..As many of you know, he struggled with substance abuse. It was NOT, however, who he was.”
“He took care of COVID patients when others in his profession refused and (then) did so without the proper protection. I was always proud of William, loved him unconditionally, and was always there for him. God has taken away his suffering as he saw it was too great for him to bear any longer,” Carolyn Coddington wrote.
His parents hope his story will encourage others to check in on those that work in the healthcare field.