David Alexander Bell, 39, died in the parking of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Peters, Missouri where his family says he was denied treatment three times.
“I felt like what he was going through was urgent and I thought that’s what emergency rooms are for,” David’s wife, Sadie Bell, told KMOV4.
During the week of January 8, Sadie says she took her husband to the emergency room two times after he said he was experiencing extreme chest pain.
On both occasions, Sadie said hospital staff refused to admit him, and only prescribed him Ibuprofen.
David, who was a Board Director for Central County Fire Department and a father of three, was rushed back to the hospital after he was having trouble breathing while at work.
“I called his fireman, because one of his firemen took him,” Sadie recalled. “I said, ‘Which hospital did you take him to?’ he said ‘I went on and took him back to Barnes-Jewish because I know that’s where you all had been going.’ I said, ‘Oh, I just wish you wouldn’t have took him there,’ He said, ‘Why not?’ and I said, ‘Every time that we have taken him, all they did was give him Ibuprofen and sent him home, and I’m really thinking they missing something,” Sadie said.
When she arrived at the hospital, she says she found her husband outside, sitting in a wheelchair. Sadie says she begged doctors to admit him but they continued to refuse.
“[The staff] said, ‘ma’am he’s already been here twice for the same thing and we’ve already diagnosed him,” she said. In an effort to get him help, Sadie started to take him to another hospital, but it was too late.
Sadie says they got halfway to the car before David died. A passerby tried giving him CPR, but was unsuccessful.
Bell’s tragic death, his wife believes was caused by the dismissal of the hospital.
“I don’t know what they thought and I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t help him,” she said.
The American Medical Association reports that Black people in America have a mortality rate twice that of white Americans, a statistic driven in part by doctors’ bias in assessing pain in Black patients.
The Central Fire & Rescue department shared a message on Facebook describing Bell’s work in the community.
“The legacy you’ve left behind has undoubtedly made our community safe and better for having you at the helm for the past three years,” the statement reads in part.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family pay for Bell’s funeral and help “ensure that the educational and extracurricular activities that he worked so hard to provide for his children while here can continue, even in his absence.”
Photo: Central County Fire & Rescue Facebook