"We made a mistake": Madison pastor gets answers after mom's COVID-19 treatment concerns

Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 2:21 AM CDT
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A Madison pastor said his mom is recovering after a fight with covid-19, but he says he's concerned about her treatment.

His mom, Gloria Allen, lives in Milwaukee. Marcus Allen lives in Madison and is the pastor of Mt. Zion Church.

Allen took to

a week ago expressing his frustrations with his mom's experience.

"My mom has the Coronavirus and I've been down by it. It's been real painful," Allen said in a Facebook video.

He went live on Facebook sharing his mom's COVID-19 fight. The video went viral reaching over 8,000 views.

"Now my mom is in the hospital on oxygen. Thank God she's still coherent," Allen said on Facebook Live.

Today Allen's mom is recovering at home.

"I'm still upset,” he said.

Allen said on March 31, Gloria went to Aurora Urgent Care in Wauwatosa with a bad cough, shortness of breath and fever.

"They say she has bronchitis and a horrible cough," he said.

He said a week later on April 6, his mom requested a phone consultation with her primary care doctor because she lost her sense of taste and smell.

But despite her symptoms, Pastor Allen claims that no one at Aurora Health raised the possibility she had COVID or suggested she be tested.

Allen said her symptoms then got worse.

"April the 9th at about 7 p.m. we called 9-1-1 because she was experiencing a severe level of shortness of breath," he said.

Allen said Milwaukee Fire Department came to the home to assess her, but recommended she didn't go to the hospital and it was safer to stay home.

"I am not going to attempt to offer an excuse. I'm going to tell you flat out, the Milwaukee Fire department erred in this case," Assistant Chief Aaron Lipski said.

Allen submitted a complaint about the handling to the Milwaukee Fire Department. Assistant Chief Aaron Lipski explained in a letter that the team that treated his mother was a "Non-COVID response unit."

"In this case the units that responded weren't our specialty units however we communicated the protocol out system wide not just to the specialty units. As I started looking into this I realized, that was our fault,” Lipski said.

Lipski said the specialty units who normally use the COVID-19 protocol were not on scene to treat Allen’s mother.

Pastor Allen said he was troubled by his mother's experience as communities of color are dying of COVID-19 disproportionately to other races.

"I'm not sure if this would have happened if she was in a different neighborhood," Allen said.

Assistant Chief Lipski acknowledged that Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. He said the Milwaukee Fire Department is not directing or redirecting resources away from any given population.

"Absolutely not. There was zero involvement of race, neighborhood, zip code, census tracked or any other demographic in how this was handled. It is just not how the Milwaukee Fire Department functions," Lipski said.

Allen said Lipski was very receptive, transparent and listened to his concerns thoroughly.

"I felt for him [Reverend Allen] right away. Everyone has family, loved ones, a mother. No one likes to do poorly at their job and we failed on this one," Lipski said.

After this encounter, Allen said his mom had a temperature of 103 and her health was not improving. So the next day he called his mom's primary care doctor.

"They called my mom and told her to go to the hospital. It wasn't until she went to the hospital she was tested for COVID-19 and she tested positive," Allen said.

After testing positive, his mom was given care and put on oxygen. Allen continues to have concerns about what he sees as his mother's symptoms going ignored by those who were supposed to help.

"Everyone should have a fair and equitable experience when going to medical professionals," he said.

We reached out to Advocate Aurora Healthcare.

"With regards to our safety and also the protection of our patient’s information, we cannot go into details," Ericka Joy Daniels, Advocate Aurora Healthcare Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer said.

They explained when they receive complaints from patients they look into their policies and procedures to see what can be improved.

"We take the insight not just from singular individual cases that were raised, but from listening to community partners,” she said. “All of that intel tells us we can't remain status quo."

Assistant Chief Lipski said he has corrected the issue to make sure it doesn't happen again.

NBC15 investigates also learned from Allen that Aurora Healthcare has committed to keeping him updated as they make promised improvements to their processes.