OK EMT Recovering from COVID Denied WC

Liz Carey

Cleveland, OK (WorkersCompensation.com) – An Oklahoma paramedic recovering from the coronavirus says her medical bills are growing, but her application for workers’ compensation has been denied.

Ibeth Carpenter was one of Oklahoma’s first cases of COVID-19 and has been in the hospital for weeks. But now the 52-year-old paramedic is filing suit with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission after her initial claim was denied.

According to KFOR, Carpenter’s company’s insurance provider denied her claim for workers’ compensation, saying it was not responsible for covering ordinary diseases the general public is exposed to.

Carpenter said she started feeling sick in March after transporting a patient to the hospital in Cleveland, Oklahoma. As her symptoms worsened, she sought treatment, only to be sent home with pain killers. As her cough and fever worsened, she was eventually admitted to the hospital and tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to the GoFundMe page set up by Carpenter’s daughter, her delayed diagnosis may have made things worse.

“Due to a variety of reasons (such as lack of knowledge and resources) Ibeth, who showed many symptoms of the virus, was not given the testing needed to diagnose the coronavirus, which led to the serious decline of her overall health,” Alexandra Carpenter said on the GoFundMe page for her mom. “As a result, Ibeth, developed pneumonia and bronchitis which led to a severe case of ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) before getting tested for COVID-19. On March 15, more than two weeks after contracting the virus, Ibeth was finally tested. She tested positive – things took a turn for the worst. Without being too explicit, my mother has gone through: countless tests, a PICC line, intubation, multiple bronchoscopies, a rotating bed to loosen liquid in her lungs, put into an induced coma for a week, and then put on a new life-saving machine, ECMO, which helps failing lungs.”

Carpenter’s attorney, Brandon Burton, said COVID-19, the disease that results from the coronavirus, is not an “ordinary disease” and that people in Carpenter’s line of work 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.”

Burton has filed a case on Carpenter’s behalf with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission.

In the meantime, Carpenter ‘s GoFundMe account for help with her medical bills has raised nearly $17,000 of the $300,000 they estimate they will need.

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