‘You don’t know who you’re saving’: Woman makes plea to Rhode Islanders after father’s COVID-19-related death


BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) —  A Burrillville woman is urging Rhode Islanders to wear a face mask and practice social distancing after several members of her family tested positive for COVID-19, including her father who has since died.

Jennifer Prosser tells Eyewitness News that she tested positive for COVID-19 back in April. Her husband, twin sister, son and father all tested positive soon after she received her test results.

“Five days later they all got their positive results,” Prosser said.

Prosser said she was sick for two weeks, and described it as if “the flu had exploded.” She said she quarantined herself in her living room, but it was too late since her family had already been exposed.

Prosser’s 48-year-old husband and 82-year-old father were hospitalized and put on ventilators. She said her husband had no pre-existing medical conditions.

“His oxygen levels, we had one of the pulse ox things, and his oxygen went down to 57 and I said, ‘That’s it, I’m calling 911 for you, you can’t keep going like this,'” she recalled.

The daily updates she would receive from the hospital put her family on an emotional roller coaster.

“They would say, ‘I’m sorry, but it looks like your dad is doing better than your husband and we don’t understand. Your dad has so many medical problems and your husband doesn’t and we just don’t know what’s going on,'” she recalled.

“One month prior to [my father] testing positive for COVID, he went into Rhode Island Hospital two times, for a week at a time,” Prosser continued. “He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.”

Prosser said her father was still very active and working prior to those hospitalizations. She said after her father was diagnosed with COVID-19, he was intubated for a total of four weeks, and suffered a heart attack and a stroke.

When asked if she wanted to take him home on hospice care, Prosser said she replied, “absolutely.” Her father came home May 19 and died a few days later surrounded by his family.

“He was unresponsive, we gave him his meds, we kept him comfortable,” she said. “We had his dog up on his bed with him.”

Prosser’s husband was intubated for three weeks before coming home. Even then, he still needed help from nurses as he recovered.

“They told me there were a couple times that he was not possibly going to make it and they didn’t understand because he’s 48 and he has no medical conditions whatsoever,” she said.

Prosser said her husband had lost about 40 pounds of muscle mass, needed his food pureed, and was in a wheelchair. She said that he is still receiving therapy and has a long road ahead.

“It’s been already a month and I see him still shaking when he holds a glass,” Prosser said. “He still can’t raise his arms up over his head, he still can’t pick things up.”

Prosser’s twin sister, who suffered similar symptoms to her, now has to use an inhaler. Prosser’s 14-year-old son is working on his lung capacity with breathing exercises.

“He plays soccer, and I don’t want him to not be able to enjoy his life, but it is still affecting him unfortunately,” she said.

As for herself, Prosser said she’s still testing positive eight weeks later.

“I do nails in a local salon here in Burrillville, and in order for me to go back to work I need two negative tests, two weeks apart,” she said. “I want to keep everybody safe, I don’t want anybody going through this. I saw through five people in my family the different levels and the different age groups that it hits and the different medical backgrounds and I don’t want anybody ever, ever to go through this.”

She urged everyone to comply with the state’s health guidelines.

“Just wear a mask, please, you don’t know who you’re saving,” she said.

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