CHICAGO (CBS) — A longtime nurse at Mercy Hospital has died of COVID-19, and now her death is under investigation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation at Mercy Hospital where some of Christine Gratzke’s coworkers tell CBS 2 Investigators they are upset about the lack of transparency when it comes to this tragic loss.
A banner that reads “We love our Mercy heroes” hangs over the main entrance at the hospital where Gratzke worked her entire 38-year career as a nurse.
She will always be her husband Joseph’s hero, too. He said goodbye to her at Resurrection Cemetery Thursday afternoon.
He said goodbye to her at Resurrection Cemetery this afternoon.
A United States Department of Labor spokesperson said they are investigating the circumstances of Gratzke’s COVID-19 death, how she may have contracted it and when. Some of her coworkers reached out to the CBS2 Investigators with concerns about how little information was relayed to staff. Thursday a Mercy spokesperson declined to comment at all, citing privacy laws.
And when it comes to solid data on COVID-19 infections and deaths for healthcare workers‚ it has been hard to come by.
A CDC report released Thursday afternoon says that as of Dec. 1, there have been approximately 245,000 COVID-19 cases reported among U.S. health care personnel and 858 COVID-19-associated deaths. Data collected by National Nurses United shows at least 264 registered nurses have died with COVID.
But thats likely very conservative because reporting requirements are not uniform.
A spokesperson told CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey Gratzke brings their total to 265.
“‘Work hard, save hard, play hard.’ She said that to me all the time,” Joseph Gratzke said.
Her family said she will be remembered for her work and her strong faith.
“Work was first and her being a nurse was everything. She loved it. When she retired she wanted to volunteer at Misieracordia,” Joseph said.
Those colleagues who spoke with CBS 2 Investigators said they are most upset with the lack of information because they want Gratzke to be remembered and celebrated as a hero.
It has become standard procedure that when a health care worker dies with COVID-19 there is an investigation into how they may have contracted it. OSHA has six months to complete its investigation and present its findings.
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