Okla. EMT hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a month denied workers' comp

Mercy Regional EMT Ibeth Carpenter has been in the hospital since March 9 and was the first COVID-19 patient in Oklahoma to be placed on an ECMO machine

By Laura French

CLEVELAND — An Oklahoma EMT who has been hospitalized for more than a month after contracting COVID-19 has been denied workers' compensation. 

EMT Ibeth Carpenter, 52,  who has worked for Mercy Regional EMS for 14 years, was first admitted to the hospital on March 9 and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 15 after developing pneumonia and bronchitis, according to her family.

After being diagnosed, Carpenter's condition declined and she became the first COVID-19 patient in Oklahoma to be placed on an ECMO machine, according to the Tulsa World.

"Reportedly, she was considered one of the MOST SEVERE nonfatal cases of COVID-19. Ibeth was the first coronavirus victim to survive coming off ECMO in the United States and only the fourth person worldwide," a GoFundMe page set up by Carpenter's family states. 

Carpenter was denied worker's compensation by her employer's insurance company, which said Carpenter was at the same risk as the general population of contracting the contagious virus. Her lawyer filed a claim with the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission last week. 

Carpenter's husband told the Tulsa World that she had transferred a seriously ill patient who was coughing on Feb. 27 and developed a cough and fever two days later. 

Her partner, a paramedic, also tested positive for COVID-19 and was denied workers' compensation, News on 6 reports.

According to the GoFundMe page, Carpenter's prognosis has improved and she has now tested negative for the virus. She is currently undergoing physical therapy and has a long road to recovery, her family said. 

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