A Wuhan nurse has reportedly jumped to her death from a hospital building following an argument with a supervisor over a lack of personal protective equipment for COVID-19 front-line health workers.
The name of Wuhan Union Hospital’s chief nurse, Liu Yilan, 54, is now trending on Chinese social media after whistleblower accounts named her as the nursing officer who has allegedly failed to secure PPE for overworked health workers in coronavirus isolation wards since the start of the outbreak, according to posts compiled on Chinese news site Sina. (https://bit.ly/2EyFKUb)
The deceased nurse, who has yet to be officially named, attempted to oust the facility’s chief nurse just days after Wuhan was put on lockdown at the start of the pandemic in January, the Sina article’s posts show.
Beijing state media outlet Global Times also cites social media posts claiming the front-line medic “fell to her death” following a row “with the hospital’s administration over protection for nurses working in coronavirus quarantine areas.” (https://bit.ly/30YaXYl)
The nurse, whose family said she was an only child and mother of a one-year-old baby, was pronounced dead after jumping from the 13th floor of the hospital’s cardiology building yesterday (29th July) morning, Shanghai news site The Paper reported. (https://bit.ly/3gc3Zph)
Wuhan Union Hospital, which is at the heart of the former COVID-19 epicentre in China’s central Hubei Province, confirmed the incident in a brief statement, expressing its “deepest condolences” to the staff member’s family. (https://bit.ly/2BMm2Du)
In an identical statement released on Weibo, the hospital’s account disabled the post’s comment function. (https://bit.ly/2BI044v)
It had not responded to Asia Wire’s request for comment and, at the time of writing, had not commented on accusations against its head nurse Ms Liu.
One of the nurse’s female relatives told The Paper that neither her fall nor the series of events leading up to her death was caught on camera – because the building’s CCTV system was not functioning.
She told the website: “The surveillance cameras are broken. There is nothing for us to see. Nothing at all.
“No one knows anything about how she was at work today. Nobody knows anything. They’re only saying she jumped.
“Their response is that the surveillance cameras are broken.”
According to the Shanghai media outlet, Wuhan police had already attended the scene and conducted interviews, while a hospital spokesman said the results of the facility’s own investigation would be announced online in the coming days. (https://bit.ly/2Pbd31q)
Meanwhile, a Weibo hashtag bearing the chief nurse’s name has already gained 340,000 impressions in just over 24 hours.
The hashtag ‘Wuhan Union Hospital nurse falls to death’ has been read 240 million times in the same period.
As yet unverified whistleblower posts name the nurse in question as Zhang Yanwan of the hospital’s cardiology department.
The front-line nurse appears in at least one article on the hospital’s website dated 27th March. (https://bit.ly/2DmJTd2)
The piece includes images of medics dressed in full hazmat gear and describes Wuhan Union Hospital’s efforts in combating the coronavirus outbreak.
In what is widely believed to be the nurse’s final social media post, she announced her resignation and refusal to work under her hospital’s nursing officer.
The post on Chinese social media and instant-messaging app WeChat reads: “Chief nurse, I’m not coming to work tomorrow. I quit.
“I’ve given it some thought and believe we have adequate staff to cover our ward. I’m sorry to leave this battle so early.
“I am willing to die as a hero, but I’m not willing to die for a supervisor like this.
“I feel sorrow for all of the nurses. I will not work in this profession in the future, if there is a future…
“On my last day in this profession, I’m going to speak up for every nurse working on the front line.
“Chief nurse, I’m sorry not to have lived up to your expectations.”
The post ends with a request for others not to try and contact her, adding: “I will not take back a single word I’ve said.”
In a signed letter circulated to a Wuhan blogger on 27th January – day five of the city’s lockdown, a nurse who identifies herself as Zhang Yanwan details her grievances against her nursing officer and calls for her to be removed.
The Weibo post read: “My name is Zhang Yanwan, work ID 2-4487. I’m currently working in the isolation wards at Wuhan Union Hospital.
“I’m using my real identity to ask all my nursing colleagues to demand the removal of head nurse Liu Yilan. We need a nursing officer who can protect all of our front-line nurses, otherwise I suggest we all resign in protest!
“We nurses have never shied away from the responsibilities given to us during these exceptional circumstances. Despite a critical shortage of medical supplies, Liu Yilan has requested that all nucleic acid swabs be collected by nurses!
“We told her that we had no professional training to do this, and may not be able to complete such a task. She said she sent us instructional videos and wanted us to watch them and learn…
“Today, everyone is praising doctors. I want everybody to know: not one of the doctors has actually stepped into an isolation ward. They are all standing outside and remote-controlling nurses through an intercom. Even if they do occasionally go inside, they take a brief look and leave.
“While they sit in their clean officers, we’re working triple shifts in quarantine areas and spending at least eight hours a day there. We’re not allowed to ear, drink or even go to the loo.
“I’m not looking for an excuse to flee this battle. I’m willing to fight, and have worked hard to stand at the very front.
“But I want to be a fighter who has a bulletproof best, and who has bullets in her gun! I refuse to be a human shield!”
Weibo users are also recalling the name of Li Wenliang, a Wuhan Central Hospital ophthalmologist whose early warnings about a novel coronavirus outbreak were suppressed and dismissed as rumours by local officials.
Doctor Li later contracted COVID-19 and died aged 33 on 7th February.
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.