Son's plea gets coronavirus-stricken mother care she needed

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

When Shawn Rider's mother, Karen, needed to be transported to a new hospital with life-saving COVID-19 machinery, he took to Facebook to do what he could to save her life. 

"Please help," Shawn Rider wrote in a Facebook post Dec. 1. "My mom is not doing well and is maxed out at Hanover Hospital's capabilities."

A nurse from York Hospital was there to answer Shawn Rider's pleas — and his mother was transferred to York Hospital a few days after physicians arranged a spot for her in York's COVID-19 intensive care unit.

Karen Rider was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-November, but later required additional medical assistance, in the form of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine — which wasn't available at UPMC Hanover.

A temporary patient screening and testing area, for the COVID-19 Coronavirus, is shown outside the Emergency Department at WellSpan York Hospital in York City, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Physicians often turn to ECMO when ventilators no longer work. 

It's a form of a lung or heart bypass procedure and has become increasingly utilized throughout the coronavirus pandemic in life-saving scenarios, according to the Washington Post.

"(The doctors) will consider ECMO upon arrival, but even if she isn't a candidate for ECMO, York can do things that Hanover can't for COVID patients," Shawn Rider said in a Facebook post.

Kelly McCall, a spokesperson for UPMC, said while the hospital system is seeing an uptick in patients with COVID-19, fewer patients have required ICU care.

"All UPMC hospitals, facilities and providers have the support of a world class academic medical center, using a wealth of knowledge and guidance on best practices," McCall said in a statement via email. "Should the need arise, we can share resources, transfer patients or mobilize staff between facilities."

When reached Tuesday, Shawn Rider declined further comment. 

Earlier this week, state officials warned that hospitals were filling and urged people to abide by basic safety precautions in an effort to tamp down the spread of the virus. 

On Thursday alone, state officials reported seven new deaths caused by COVID-19 in York County, and 581 new confirmed cases. The number of new cases in the county, and statewide, have exploded over the past two weeks. 

Though York Hospital does not publicly release bed count data, spokesperson Ryan Coyle said the health system has been managing capacity constraints by reducing targeted elective procedures.

Additionally, the WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital at Apple Hill has been recently expanded into an acute care hospital with additional bed capacity for COVID-19 patients.

In response to Karen Rider's condition, a GoFundMe page was created. As of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., it's garnered donations totaling $1,885.

"Not all COVID-19 patients require ICU care, but the sheer volume of COVID-19 patients seeking care is increasing at a steep rate," Coyle said via email. "Now is the time to slow the spread of the virus — before it overwhelms our healthcare heroes."

In response to Karen Rider's condition, a GoFundMe page was created.

As noon Thursday, it had garnered donations totaling $2,385.

"We have full faith in York Hospital and the team on mom’s case," Shawn Rider said in a Facebook post. "If you know a Wellspan York employee, please thank them for us."

— Reach Tina Locurto at or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.