The real victims of misinformation spread by nurse Erin Marie Olszewski shared their stories with me.
Just a sample of excerpts (anonymized) below (will be adding more as I find a minute to edit to keep them anonymous). See our original debunking of “Perspectives of the Pandemic” here.
From a physician fellow at Elmhurst:
As someone who worked in those units and know the individuals and patients she referenced I can say without question that she spoke from a place of ignorance.
That she would use lazy and faulty conclusions based on superficial observations to assign motives to and assassinate the character of people who worked tirelessly is unconscionable. I know these residents and doctors, who paid emotional and physical (got sick w/ covid) toll trying their best.
Furthermore, I respect that she had concerns about patient care and applaud a system of accountability that would give her a voice to ask questions. THE PROBLEM IS SHE NEVER ASKED….. SHE JUST ASSUMED.
Had she have asked questions and had civil discussions with the medical team this is what they would have told her:
While it is true that some patients tested negative, those patients all had horrendously deranged inflammatory makers (with distributive shock on pressure) and chest x rays clearly demonstrating lung injury. In this case the responsible thing to do is to assume covid positive and give the available treatment. Speaking of which, all of these patients received an adjunctive anti inflammatory treatment consistent w CDC recs at the time so I’m not sure what her point regarding Plaquenil was.
This is because you’re likely dealing with a false Negative test because these patients were often unintentionally swabbed too superficially (i.e. didn’t get oropharynx because people testing don’t want to cause the patient discomfort and also limit their own exposure, which is understandable). This was a limitation of the test itself at the time. This also completely undermines the notion that these patients were inappropriately intubated for conditions like “anxiety”. There was clear evidence of
underlying organic disease processes and high flow O2 was often attempted prior to intubation when possible, but in addition to needing more respiratory support these patients also would develop encephalopathy and require intubation for airway protection.
She makes the mistake of comparing a limited experience w/ covid in Florida to a different population of patients (much sicker) in New York.
Each of her other arguments/points could be similarly refuted by anyone with first hand knowledge of the situation. You get the point.
This nurse may think she is helping in her own delusional way but effectively she is type-casting an entire community and hospital as inept, inadequate, and ignorant. I wonder if she would have made this video if she was working in the established hospitals across in Manhattan? I’ve worked shifts I’m both ICU’s during this crisis. While Elmhurst is a public hospital and as a result may lack some resources, I can tell you the medical decision making was consistent in both and outcomes were similar. These were simply sick patients. Inherent in her video is a bias and prejudice that is damaging in its own right.
Of course I was mad, but of this makes me sad more than anything. Sad for colleagues who were portrayed as inhuman/inept when they volunteered to do these shifts because they felt the call to duty (no hefty hazard pay required, like this nurse received). These same individuals shed tears over their patients, I’ve seen it, they just chose to do so privately, confiding only in their closest friends, rather than online. They also got sacrificed their bodies and got sick caring for their patients.
I’m sad that someone would hijack the struggle of an underserved community for the purpose of their own narrative, and in doing so stereotype them all in a damaging way.
But most of all, I’m thankful you took the time to stand up for them. They certainly appreciate it.
From a traveling nurse co-worker at Elmhurst:
First, as healthcare professionals we all can see through the misconception and ill perspective of the psycho that worked hand in hand next to me. Someone I thought was a friend, someone that was in the trenches of Elmhurst with me-I thought-for all the right reasons.
But, here is Erin Marie… Firstly, Covid rule outs WERE homed with Covid positive patients at the beginning of this pandemic-why- because the hospital was 80% OVER capacity. Imagine-we had 152 patients on ventilators when I walked through that door April 11th. We still have original Covid patients in the ICU units-some that were intubated at the end of March. They are now successfully trached, out of bed to chair, and undergoing pt/ot as they should be. Truth-there are patients that have negative Covid tests-falsely-why because they had elevated inflammatory markers on admission. Huge cause for a false negative-clinically present with glass ground opacities in the lungs, and rapid onset of multi organ system failure. And, as you said-false negatives and false positives happen. In the case of my *** patient (Erin mentioned)-I can tell you more about that person than I can myself. Presented to the ED with shortness of breath and a cough. No underlying medical conditions. Now, take into consideration-this is the melting pot of the US-there are so many ethnicities and cultures here-healthcare is not free and they are underprivileged and don’t receive treatment when they should… was admitted to a Covid med surg floor ( tested positive) on a nasal canula, to venti mask to nonrebreather to eventually bipap. Was proning during this time. He was also receiving hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Guess what happened next-had a MI-prolonged QT. That’s what landed him on the ventilator with renal failure to follow. He had a dialysis catheter placed, an a-line, and a triple lumen central line. Why. Because those are needed tools in the ICU-that’s a critical care patient-Covid or not. I don’t know about you but I’m not infusing levophed, vasopressin, and neo through peripherals that need to be changed every 72 hours on someone with poor vascular access and terrible perfusion. A line for ABGS and blood draws to be able to wean or titrate the ventilator and replace electrolytes as needed, and review renal panels for preparation of HD. All of these lines and tubes and we still with help of an Air Force prone team were proning my patient!
Truth-Erin Marie is NOT a critical care nurse-she claims she is an ED nurse. She was taught how to inline suction, how to titrate drips, and how to open and insert the chamber into the epi syringe during a code(I’m pretty sure that must have been used in her ED career at some point). The night she videotaped and recorded my conversation and my patient was the night he passed. (Redacted for patient privacy)
Following the deaths of these three patients on that same night, CCU became a clean unit-there is no Covid or suspected Covid in the unit. Shoe covers are only worn in level 3 zones-not throughout the entire facility as she claims. What Erin doesn’t share is that the “dentist and ophthalmologist” working in the ICUs they have a defined role-they are the medical professionals that FaceTime family members at bedside. They are not treating! They are an extension of the nursing staff so we can provide more time caring for our patients and less time answering phone calls and talking to families…during this pandemic. What Erin doesn’t share is she was moved from night shift to dayshift on her own accord(it seems once she got what she wanted from her recordings) and shortly after terminated by Elmhurst and Krucial staffing for accusing a physician of murdering her patient.
To express the level of betrayal, hurt , doubt, pure disgust and anger is something I can not put into words. Working at a level one trauma center in a hurricane prevalent area, I came to Elmhurst to give the regular staff some reprieve-a fresh face-a strong skill set-and to answer my nursing oath. I thought others did too and man did this one nurse prove me wrong. We were welcomed with open arms and air hugs.
My heart hurts for the regular staff at Elmhurst-they are good nurses-they have good docs(and bad docs) but who doesn’t. But, the amount of mistrust, doubt, and fear that her video portrays to an otherwise already underprivileged city hospital-that’s not ok. All I keep thinking about are the families, the morale of the staff…there was no good to come from her video. It puts agency nurses in a terrible light-we already face obstacles of “oh you’re just a travel nurse” We aren’t all the same. Please feel free to share with the tribe-just keep it anonymous for me-The reputation is fractured. The morale is terrible. And it’s not fair for these nurses-most CCRN certified to always be portrayed in a negative light. And, it shows credibility that not all travel nurses are snakes.
From a pulmonary attending who cared for one of the patients mentioned:
I’m pulmonary/critical care in *** and volunteered through SCCM to go to NY as a pulmonary/critical care physician. I ended up at Elmhurst for a month and loved it. PCCM was needed so badly there; they got hammered and badly needed critical care docs. That’s an easier story to tell by voice than by the written word. Everyone there that I worked with, from the nurses to the docs, the residents and fellows, all worked really hard for the benefit of every patient. The residents got thrown into the lion’s mouth when the virus hit that hospital. It was really bad for them. The hospital ran out of ventilators and they had to decide who got ventilators (exame: choose between the older grandfather or the younger 40 year old with kids, etc.), which tore them up emotionally a lot. Many told me how they cried over what they saw and really had what I would describe as moral distress. Later the hospital got ventilators (less-than-ideal travel vents) but they needed staff. It was over a month later before Locums and volunteers started to arrive.
Anyway, I saw that Erin person around a few times but she was never the nurse on any of my patients. It turned out she was making inflammatory posts on social media which people picked up on.
She was an agency nurse with Krucial and was working nights. Apparently no one saw her social media posts, which were really inflammatory. She got busted when she had remained logged in for 12 hours outside of her assigned shift time gathering information. She got moved to days and then her social media posts were found by someone (her staffing agency?) and they pulled her from the “A4 unit” (normally a step down floor that was converted into an ICU) and sent her to the ER to work. Very shortly after that same day she was kicked out. The part in italics was told to me by a nurse from her agency.
A few days ago I saw Erin’s video and was as shocked by it and how misleading it was. The part that I can directly refute is her crying claim at the end of it where she says a resident incorrectly ambu-bagged her patidet suggesting it led to his death. Absolutely untrue.
Here is what really happened on the morning she was thrown out: I was rounding on A4 and they called a code a few doors down from where my team was. I walked over and started my assessment. The patient was morbidly obese and hypoxic and had weak pulse. We immediately disconnected the vent and tried to bag him to evaluate the airway, but there was no air movement; the bag could not squeeze. I tried to suction the trach and the suction catheter could not advanced through the trach, so I knew it was occluded or dislodged from the trachea. As we examined the patient quickly, it was immediately apparent that there was a ton of subcutaneous air on the chest (right > left), so I knew the trach got pushed out from the trachea. There was no way ay that time to find the trachea through the stoma. I was there with an ER doc who was acting as an intensivist on a different team. I intubated the gentleman and he did bilateral chest tubes, which confirmed tension pneumothorax. A CRNA came and I asked him to confirm tube placement, as the views were terrible considering the size of his neck and the capnometer was giving us equivocal readings. The CRNA used a glide scope and we decided to make sure the ETT was in place so he used a Bougie and then we put a 2nd tube over that and knew we were definitely in. We had already started CPR and marched through ACLS like military cadence. Unfortunately he never regained his pulse or blood pressure. I called it at 18 minutes, with the full agreement of the other attendings, including the patient’s medicine attending. Many were upset over the gentleman’s death as apparently he had been doing so well and was actually improving.
As to why he developed a spontaneous tension pneumothorax, I don’t know. The nurses were saying a resident was in the room beforehand adjusting the PEEP, but I spoke to the residents and then an attending who said he was making some ventilatory adjustments and never touched the PEEP. I told the nurses after the code what happened and that it looked like a spontaneous pneumothorax and the trach came out from the subcutaneous air. There was no resident “incorrectly ambu-bagging” the patient which led to his death.
That AM, the nurses had been sympathetic to Erin (clearly one had called her), but by later that day her social media posts had started making the rounds. As nurses read them, they were OUTRAGED at what she was stating and doing. Since then, many things that she posted on her Facebook have been deleted, but the reality is that someone in her agency and the hospital figured out she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and booted her out due to her social media posts and apparently her IT violations.
From an ICU nurse at Elmhurst:
I am a MICU/CCU nurse at Elmhurst Hospital. The way you spoke up for us literally made tears come out of my eyes. We were once called heroes now we are murderers. We are getting death threats and are told not to wear our scrubs for safety when coming to work. I worked with COVID19 patients since day 1, got sick, went thru emotional turmoil along with physical exhaustion. I will never forget how much we sweat with our googles fogged up, had headaches and a sore throat with wearing the N95 for more than 12 hours running room to room as the saturation levels went down to the 40’s.
So many of us got sick and to have someone who came to make up some story and twist it is so wrong. This nurse deserves her license revoked. She puts the profession of nursing to a shame. She claims her private institution in Florida had no deaths related to COVID. According to her facebook she is from Tampa Florida which falls under Hillsborough county which had 81 deaths. The total population of Tampa, Fl is 392,890 whereas the total population in Queens, NY is 2.73 million.
This so called holistic anti-vax , anti-chemo RN from the ED who claims to have all crossed trained nurses when in fact she was being taught how to suction patients on the vent has convinced certain people that COVID-19 did not even exist and the solution to COVID is sunshine, sea water, hydroxychloroquine and vitamin C.
There is no cure for COVID-19 as of yet. We tried the plasma, hydroxychloroquine remdesimvir and more which did not improve some of these patients’ conditions. We were physically tired where I had worked 14 1/2 hour shifts but the emotional turmoil this brought upon us cannot even be expressed in words. We had to open up 160 ICU beds.
I can not even imagine how the lies of this person affected those who are already grieving with the loss of their family members. We held a candle light vigil because we wanted to say a few words and have closure because of everyone who passed. So these are nurses and doctors who do care. People like Erin Marie Olszewski have no shame and do not care for anyone but themselves.
Thank you Dr. Z because the only people who seem to know she is lying at this time are healthcare professionals.
From a traveling nurse at Elmhurst:
As a travel nurse working at Elmhurst hospital I just wanted to thank you for your videos supporting those of us that work here. Have we done everything right? No, it’s an unknown disease and mistakes were made. I know for a fact that everyone here has worked their hardest and done everything possible to treat the patients here. I’ve seen the staff nurses get teary-eyed when they talk about the first few days of the pandemic. I’ve seen doctors and nurses work tirelessly to save patients and do all they can for them, sometimes even if nothing is left to be done but hold their hand. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for not letting the truth go unknown.
More stories coming shortly…
Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Z. Okay, I put out a video yesterday about Erin Marie and her video about being the epicenter undercover nurse at Elmhurst Hospital at County, public hospital in New York at the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic. In her video, I went through and very rationally debunked a lot of the stuff she said, but none of that matters. What matters is she has created a kind of harm that is so inexcusable that it makes me seethe with anger and I’m gonna try to control that anger to tell you what’s happened since.
Since I put out that video, I’ve gotten message after message from frontline healthcare workers, doctors and nurses and trainees and residents and fellows, who work at Elmhurst, during one of the worst experiences in modern memory in health care. Taking care of a rush of sick, sick, sick COVID patients, all of whom who are trying to die, in a situation where they had limited resources and all hands were on deck. We had volunteer doctors who reached out to me who were cited. She did this undercover expose where she recorded them without their permission and put it out on the internet, accusing them of murder, accusing them of incompetence, these caring, amazing clinicians.
And why do I say this, because they’ve told me their stories that they can’t say publicly. Why? Because their effing professionals. Because they actually listen when we talk about patient privacy. They can’t even fight back. So they email me out of desperation, saying please keep this anonymous, but here’s why what she said is not just wrong, it’s hurtful. We have staff that are there, losing patients they’re trying to save to a disease nobody understands yet. And they’re crying in private in the call rooms, in the hallways, and she’s calling them murderers, this woman who comes from Florida, gets hazard pay, as part of crucial staffing, solely with an agenda, to do this expose so she can get views. This is someone who’s anti-vaccine, who spouts conspiracy theories on her website, and she comes in and does this inexcusable act to people who actually care.
And what do they do, they reach out to me because they don’t have a voice. I have argued time and time again that we should speak out when we see injustice in health care, when we’re being mistreated, when our patients are being mistreated. And people said, well ZDogg, isn’t that what she’s doing? No. She’s a con artist who’s using other people’s suffering to further her own, her own fame. And you wanna see heroes, you wanna see people who wanna speak out but can’t. They’re the people who are emailing me. I’m gonna take their stories, I’m gonna print them verbatim and anonymize them on my website where this video will live, and I want you to read them, they deserve to be heard.
They are so demoralized, and I want to tell you guys, everybody at Elmhurst Hospital who’s listening to this, who worked with this woman, who fed back to me who exactly she is, someone who is not an ICU nurse, was never trained to be an ICU nurse, had to be taught how to suction an ET tube. This is the same person who’s claiming to understand COVID and all the mismanagement that’s going on. Is there, are there mistakes, yes, are there trainees, yes, are there bad doctors, yes. But is this the way that you speak out? Through straight slander of good people who are behaving heroically in a time of need, who are volunteering, who are getting sick and dying of COVID? No, and we won’t stand for it. Share this video, that’s it, read the stories, let’s give them a voice. All right, that’s it.