• A frontline worker in NYC sent heartbreaking last text messages to her daughter
  • Her daughter shared how she kept on telling her mother to come home, to be back and not to give up hope
  • The final text she received from her dying mother was, "Love you"

The story of Madhvi Aya is one of the many similar stories happening all over America today. As recounted by her daughter, it shows a bleak picture of how COVID-19 patients die lonely with their families robbed of the chance to see them for the last time.

A Physician Assistant By Choice

Madhvi Aya is a doctor in India who trained in the United States to become a physician assistant after she immigrated to America. Madhvi worked at Woodhull Medical Center, a Brooklyn public hospital, for almost twelve years. She witnessed how the deadly COVID-19 tore a merciless path through New York.

Her daughter, Minnoli, said that her mother had talked about the grossly understaffed emergency room at Woodhull. Madhvi would be taking medical histories, ask about symptoms and order tests. Within days of Madhvi’s last shift as a caregiver, she had become infected herself.

heartbreaking last texts of frontline worker to daughter, physician by choice
heartbreaking last texts of frontline worker to daughter, physician by choice iira116 - Pixabay

Alone In A Hospital

When she tested positive for COVID-19, 61-year-old Madhvi was admitted to a different hospital, one that is near her home in Long Island. Their physical distance, however, did not provide any comfort as her family is not allowed to visit her. Madhvi was all alone and did not even have the solace of seeing familiar colleagues back at Woodhull.

In one of her texts to her family, Madhvi described the dreadful chest pain she experienced when she tried getting out of bed. “I have not improved the way should have been,” Madhvi wrote Raj, her husband, on March 23. As her condition worsened, Madhvi’s text became less frequent, and when she did, it would only be in short, erratic bursts.

Craving For A Mom’s Hug

On March 25, Minnoli texted Madhvi, “I miss you, mommy.” During an interview, Minnoli revealed she craved for the reassuring comfort of her mother’s hugs and the coziness of crawling into her mom’s bed. “Please don’t give up hope because I haven’t given up. I need my mommy. I need you to come back to me,” Minnoli wrote to her mom.

The next day, Madhvi replied with two short messages with one saying, “Love you” and another, which appeared to be a promise of “Mom be back.” Madhvi will not be able to keep that promise.

heartbreaking last texts of frontline worker to daughter, craving for hug
heartbreaking last texts of frontline worker to daughter, craving for hug AdinaVoicu - Pixabay

High Occupational Risk

Front line health care workers like Madhvi face a high risk of getting infected with COVID-19, with thousands of them already becoming sick with the virus. It is not known, however, how many health workers have already died in New York due to coronavirus after closely working with COVID-19 patients.

Like other New York hospitals, Woodhull had transformed one ward after another into improvised intensive care units when coronavirus began tearing through the city. When facility equipment and supplies, such as ventilators and protective gear for its medical staff, the hospital appealed to its affiliate medical centers for help and transferred their patients elsewhere.

Health Workers Largely Unaware

It is not known how Madhvi acquired COVID-19 infection. While working at Woodhull in early March, one staff member revealed that hospital front line workers did not receive instructions to wear protective masks for all patients. As the crisis unfolded, New York hospitals realized that patients coming in for what seemed to be unrelated issues have been testing positive for coronavirus. This may have exposed unsuspecting health care workers to the virus.

Woodhull’s administration on March 17 began advising emergency department workers to don on masks for all patients. A spokesperson for Health and Hospitals Corp., the company that oversees Woodhull, talked about the readily available protective equipment they have for their health care workers.

heartbreaking last texts of frontline worker to daughter, health workers largely unaware
heartbreaking last texts of frontline worker to daughter, health workers largely unaware leo2014 - Pixabay

COVID-19 Infection

Madhvi’s shift at the hospital is grueling. According to Madhvi’s husband, Raj, she would always say, “We have to take care of our patients first.” When the outbreak reached New York, her husband said that Madhvi was worried she might bring the virus home to the 64-year-old Raj and Malti Masrani, her 86-year-old mother. Raj underwent aortic bypass in 2017 while Malti suffered a stroke last year. Madhvi had no underlying medical issue.

On March 12, Madhvi began coughing, and so they went to Woodhull the following evening to be examined by a doctor and also to be tested for COVID-19. Madhvi chose to stay home, but then her cough worsened, and she developed a fever. On March 18, Raj drove Madhvi to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, which is about two miles from their home. They would never see her again.

Test Came Back Positive

Raj did not go home immediately but waited in the hospital parking lot, texting Madhvi if she had already received her X-ray result. He also told her that he tried to get in to see her, but the hospital would not let him. Madhvi then texted her husband to just go home, and she would just call him as she is still waiting.

The next morning, Madhvi told her husband that Woodhull already informed her about the results of her COVID-19 test there, and it turned out to be positive. In an interview, Raj said, “She was always there for us, whenever we wanted.” When Madhvi got sick, however, no one there beside her.

The text messages of Madhvi and her family’s account on her final days showed a woman who spent a great part of her life to medicine. Her early mild symptoms at home were followed by an illness that rapidly escalated until she died alone. Dr. Robert Chin, the emergency department director at Woodhull, said Madhvi’s death is a heavy blow to their team. On April 1, he sent out an internal email asking for donations for the family of Madhvi. It has been reported that the physician assistant is the primary wage earner.

A Range Of Feelings

Minnoli, the daughter of Madhvi, revealed that her emotions are a range of disbelief and intense grief. She also said that sometimes she felt angry at her mom for not coming home. Minnoli said, “I just want to be able to hug her and have her tell me everything is going to be OK.” During the week that her mother was confined at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, she continued to send her messages.

Madhvi’s health continued to worsen, and by the end of the week, she was already having breathing difficulties. The doctors readied her to be put on a ventilator and called Raj to ask if he wanted to see his wife first before they do. He did not go because of his heart condition, a decision, he said, that has haunted him. That afternoon, the hospital staff informed him that his wife died.

The Final Texts

During the weeks following Madhvi’s death, her daughter continues to pore over their last text exchanges that are still on her phone. In one text, Minnoli had written, “Hi mommy. College is getting so much more stressful now that it’s at home.”

She also sent a text to her mom three days before her death. She wrote, “The good thing is I’m home but I need you to come back here to me. I hope you ate dinner and I’m still praying for you and haven’t given up hope.” Madhvi had replied, “Concentrate,” to which Minnoli responded, “I am but I want u home.” Madhvi promptly replied, “Home soon.” Her daughter then sent another message saying, “I love you, mommy, with all my heart.” Madhvi replied, “Love you,” her final words.