St. Louis EMT in need of lung transplant appeals workers' comp rejection

St. Louis EMT Liz Smith says she nearly died from COVID-19, but the city said it can't verify that she had the virus

By Laura French

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis EMT who spent three months in the hospital and now needs a lung transplant is appealing after her workers' compensation claim was denied. 

St. Louis EMT Liz Smith said COVID-19 caused her to go into cardiac arrest and spend one month in a coma, and left her with holes in both her lungs, according to KSDK. Smith said when she filed a workers' compensation claim through the city, she was told it would be rejected because she had the flu, not COVID-19. 

Missouri Governor Mike Parson issued an emergency rule in April 2020 that states first responders who are diagnosed with or quarantined for COVID-19 would be presumed to have gotten it at work. Smith and her mother, who helped her file the claim, said they believed this rule would have made receiving compensation easy, but because the city says it can't verify that Smith had COVID-19, she has not been able to receive financial assistance. 

"There are no records to substantiate this claim at this time," a city of St. Louis spokesperson told KSDK. 

Smith says she believes she may not be able to return to work as an EMT due to the damage to her lungs, and that she is currently paying more than $800 a month for health insurance. The family launched an online fundraiser to help with medical bills, which they say total more than $1 million. 


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