A retired army sergeant and war veteran turned whistleblowing nurse alleges horrific medical malpractice at a Queens hospital. Erin Olszewski’s abbreviated tenure at Elmhurst Hospital Center was during the months that New York was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering the highest number of COVID deaths in the nation. Her claim that the standard of medical care at Elmhurst was commensurate with “a third world country hospital” is based on shocking undercover videos she made of conversations with colleagues, supervisors, and other hospital personnel over many weeks – and they are chilling.
New York has suffered higher mortality of COVID-19 patients than any other state. Based on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) disastrous nursing home policy – finally reversed on May 25 without any mention of its devastating impacts – nearly 6,000 elderly Americans died in nursing homes when Cuomo ordered the facilities to accept COVID-positive patients. But as terrible as the nursing home scandal is, it may be but one chapter in an increasingly disturbing book – with new chapters written daily – about COVID-19 mortality and the Empire State.
Elmhurst Hospital was repeatedly described as the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic on multiple news reports back when lockdowns first began. The data showed that 60-90% of these patients died because of the “knee jerk intubation-ventilation process,“ as described by Dr. Trevor Pour, a physician at Mount Sinai Health System. Subsequently, New York hospitals began to back off the automatic use of ventilators and started to adopt safer and more efficacious protocols. But it appears that grievous errors in medical judgment were not the only causes of the surplus of New York state COVID deaths.
According to Olszewski, many deaths at Elmhurst were the result of medical malpractice, negligence, or alarming directives from superiors. In one portion of her secretly recorded video, she asks another nurse why a patient whose chart shows two negative tests for COVID-19 is still listed as COVID-positive – something she witnessed again and again. Her colleague is surprised and perplexed when shown the evidence.
The conjecture is that this became common practice in many hospitals based on financial incentives. Olszewski says hospitals, including Elmhurst, earned an extra $29,000 per ventilated COVID-positive patient – which is critical funding they would forgo if a patient’s chart showed COVID-negative. Making hospitals responsible for generating revenue based on reported cause of death is a recipe for corruption, and it appears to be playing out across the country in institutions like Elmhurst.
On June 12, Olszewski was a guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight. She described the practice of housing COVID and non-COVID patients “on the same floor, sometimes in the same room” at Elmhurst while another floor of the facility sat empty, having been cleaned and disinfected to accept COVID-negative patients. According to Olszewski, this ultimately caused numerous “hospital-acquired infections of COVID.” And when she inquired about this unethical practice to her supervisor, she was sent home – something she alleges was standard practice when nurses asked too many questions.
When Carlson asked Olszweski how repeatedly exposing patients with weakened immune systems to Coronavirus in a hospital could occur, she said she believes it has much to do with Governor Cuomo’s March 23 executive order freeing all hospital personnel from liability for COVID deaths.
She further asserted that two other factors increased these deaths at Elmhurst, in her estimation. One was Cuomo’s decision to limit or ban the use of hydroxychloroquine – a remarkably effective and inexpensive drug with a 70-year record of safety that 37% of doctors worldwide tout as the best available weapon in the fight against the Coronavirus. The other is that hospitals almost entirely restricted visitation, leaving patients to fight for their lives without their families to advocate for them.
Olszewski also states that Elmhurst Hospital exclusively administered a Coronavirus test that takes 4-5 days to get results as opposed to one that yields results in 45 minutes because the faster test is more expensive. This dramatically increased the odds that COVID-negative patients would ultimately contract the virus after waiting days for test results in an environment filled with infectious patients.
In another interview on The High Wire, Olszewski plays a video and describes an incident that was clearly emotional for her, concerning a 37-year old patient in respiratory distress who was treated for COVID-19 although he had tested negative for it. He was intubated and ventilated, and the nursing staff was instructed by an order which came “from the top” that even though the patient did not have a ‘DNR’ (Do Not Resuscitate order) – he should not be resuscitated. With nursing staff prevented from interceding, the young man died without his family ever being able to enter the hospital to advocate for him. No reason was given for the decision.
Olszewski states that the tragic deaths she described were avoidable, and contrasts her experience at Elmhurst with another hospital she worked at in Florida in March, where patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine and zinc instead of being pushed on ventilators. Not one patient died. Olszewski says her experience at Elmhurst Hospital was worse for her than fighting in Iraq as a soldier. She maintains these patients died at the hands of those sworn to protect them. In keeping with her background as a United States soldier, there’s a military term Erin Olszewski uses to frame the horrifying losses. She calls it “friendly fire.”
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