Oklahoma EMT hospitalized with COVID-19 for weeks, denied worker’s compensation
CLEVELAND, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma paramedic who was one of the earliest and worst cases of COVID-19 in the state is now on the slow road to recovery, but as her medical bills grow, her worker’s compensation has been denied.
Ibeth Carpenter has been in hospital care for weeks now. The 52-year-old EMT started feeling sick in early March after transporting a patient in Cleveland, Oklahoma.
“My wife complained that day about this patient who was coughing all over them she said, and it was very nasty,” said Ibeth’s husband, Paul.
She developed a terrible cough herself, and a persistent fever that wouldn’t go away.
But Paul said doctors she first saw sent her home with ibuprofen.
“The doctor even said, ‘If I had any suspicion that she might have the coronavirus I wouldn’t be sitting here unprotected,’” he said.
When symptoms worsened, she went back, and was finally diagnosed with COVID-19.
The disease was so severe, Ibeth was put into an induced coma as they tried to loosen the liquid in her lungs.
“Frightening. It’s frightening,” Paul said, unwilling to consider the worst case scenarios.
Miraculously, her condition has improved, but now, she’s facing a new battle.
Ibeth’s company’s insurance denied her claim for worker’s compensation, saying it’s not responsible for ordinary diseases to which the general public is exposed.
However her attorney, Brandon Burton, said not only is it not an ordinary disease, but people in her job are not the same as the general public.
“With respect to which the general public is exposed, well, general public’s not required to transport people who have contracted the virus in ambulances to the hospital like this EMT was,” Burton said. “Especially when there’s a shelter in place, the general public’s at least hopefully not exposed to the same virus.”
He filed a case on her behalf with the Oklahoma’s Worker’s Compensation Commission.
In the meantime, her husband just wants her focused on her health.
“I just thank God she’s alive and want her to be focused on recovering and eating and exercising and drinking and getting well and getting strong,” Paul said.