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“Alexa, Help Me”

Published on April 11th, 2020

A nursing home patient in Michigan with the coronavirus asked Alexa on an Amazon Echo device for help before she died, her sister said.  LouAnn Dagen died last Saturday, shortly after she was transferred to a hospital in Grand Rapids. She was 66. Dagen was a resident at the nursing home for 10 years and had never been transferred to the hospital prior to the complications that rapidly developed as a result of COVID-19.  “She was a very talented girl. She played the piano and the organ. She sang,” Penny Dagen told NBC News. “She was a ventriloquist. She played the guitar.”

 She was one of 31 residents and five staff members who tested positive for the virus at the nursing home, Metron of Cedar Springs, which is now called Mission Point, according to the facility.  Residents with the coronavirus are quarantined away from the rest of the facility’s population.  The medical examiner’s office said Dagen’s death was caused by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to her sister, Penny.  Penny Dagen was  prohibited from visiting her sister in person after the nursing home restricted visitors because of the pandemic.

It wasn’t until Monday that Penny Dagen discovered the recordings from the Amazon device in her sister’s room at Metron.  So Alexa became LouAnn Dagen’s primary way to communicate with her sister. Pruitt said: “She could call her sister through the device, and they communicated often. It was a very positive part of her life, which we supported fully.”

There were 40 or so recordings on the Amazon device over the last three to four days of her sister’s life, Penny Dagen said. In one of the exchanges, LouAnn Dagen said: “Alexa, help me.”  In another, she said: “I am in pain. I have to find a way to relieve it.” She also asked Alexa: “Can you help me cope with pain?” and said: “Oh, Alexa, I’m going to hurt.”

Penny Dagen said through tears: “I just felt bad because I couldn’t help her.” She said she finds some peace in knowing that her only sibling is no longer suffering. “She’s up there with my mom and dad, and she’s not in pain anymore,” Penny said. “That’s the only thing that keeps me going.”

Penny Dagen believes the nursing home could have taken preventive measures sooner to  prevent exposure or slow the spread of the virus.  “That’s all in the past now,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do about it now. What’s done is done.”

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