The nurse had been working in the intensive care unit and seeing so many people die had taken a toll on him.
The pandemic across the world has taken hundreds of thousands of lives so far and the medical workers on the frontlines witness this daily. The virus has taken the lives of hundreds of medical workers as well but it is affecting them in other ways as well.
The trauma of seeing so many people dying while not having emotional support since people are afraid to be near them is causing a lot of mental distress. For those already struggling, the isolation has just made it worse.
The death of a nurse, who was a frontline worker, due to substance abuse is further proof of how disheartening and difficult it is to be doing this job. William Coddington, 32, had been working at the north campus of the JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was treating those with the virus.
His family and friends had said that Coddington, who struggled with addiction for many years and was on the mend, had been shaken by the overwhelming number of patients in his intensive care unit. He was also feeling the effects of not being able to go for his 12-step recovery meetings due to the pandemic, as per PEOPLE.
"He couldn’t meet with his sponsor," his mother Carolyn said. "And his friends, nobody wanted to see him because he worked in a hospital, not even to sit 6 feet apart," she added. The isolation had been getting hard to navigate for the otherwise social guy.
He had become quieter in his final weeks, his mother added. He used to retreat into his room after returning home and his mom worried that he would relapse. And, that is what she fears killed him.
The 32-year-old had been found dead in his car which was parked in a parking lot of a hotel by his mother, Carolyn. The registered nurse had an argument with his mother on April 24 but they had made up but he told her that he was going to sleep at a hotel. The next morning i.e. April 25 she saw through her tracking app that he was not at the hospital and so she drove to the hotel, where he was resting for the night. She found him dead.
“Addiction is not a choice, and if you ever run across people who struggle, always be kind. Encourage them, love them, always have compassion not judgement,” Carolyn said during Coddington's virtual funeral on May 6, according to NBC Miami.
His virtual funeral was attended by hundreds of people. His friend, Robert Marks, said that Coddington needed his worries about the patients, lack of protective gear to be "numbed." “What you or I may find as upsetting, or bothersome – that life could be devastating to him," he added. "William loved being a nurse, listening to music, playing video games, and spending time with friends and family," his memorial website says.
The nurse's father, Ron, told the Palm Beach Post, "This is a very good kid. A loving man but he had his demons.” He continued, "It was a collision of the drug epidemic and the pandemic. Two worlds colliding."
Coddington had been worried over the lack of personal protective gear and had posted on April 13 on Facebook saying, "These reports of stockpiled n95 masks being sent to hospitals is a joke. In my hospital, we are rationing 1 n95 mask for my whole shift. We are running out of gowns. We are having people make makeshift face shields that end up snapping while in patients' rooms... This isn’t my hospital's fault, as I’ve heard this from fellow nurses in different hospital districts."
“He was scared,” his father said. “He was scared about going in. But he didn’t hesitate going in."
Coddington would often hold a phone to patients so they could talk to their family members through FaceTime. "It was the stress of seeing people hurting, people dying," Ron said.
The exact cause of Coddington's death has not yet been released.