Maurice Dotson - Gone but not forgotten online


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Maurice Dotson

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With the novel coronavirus sweeping through the West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Austin, Maurice Dotson posted a stark message on his Facebook. "Off to work again. Healthcare never closes . . . pray 4 me," he wrote. That same day, a state inspector showed up at the sprawling facility to check on a complaint that managers failed to order the staff to wear masks and gloves, despite strict federal guidelines. During the visit on March 26, the inspector found the facility had violated critical infection control practices, including failing to isolate a sick patient, not sanitizing their hands, and not properly disposing of protective gear. It was the second time in two years the state had found such problems. Two weeks later, Dotson, a certified nursing assistant who had worked at the facility for 25 years and was now caring for patients with COVID-19, feared he was coming down with something. "I’m hurting so bad,” he said in a Facebook post. “I don't know what's going on with me.” Ten days later, on the morning of April 17, at the age of 51, he died from the virus. In the ensuing days, his sister said, scores of messages of condolences poured into her email inbox and Facebook account, many from the relatives of patients. "I didn't know how many people’s lives he touched," she said. Dotson's remains were flown back to Arkansas, his birthplace, where his funeral will take place on Saturday in a graveside service. Dina Mata, a former receptionist at the facility, said she created a special plaque with photos of her coworker to be hung in the same hallway where he had worked for years. He was remembered at the facility on Friday with a release of purple balloons, his favorite color. "Many times I would get calls from family members who couldn't be at the facility to feed the resident, and they would ask for him," she said. "He was known for working 10 days straight. He spent many, many days holding their hands. I still remember when a CNA called in sick, and Maurice had just finished his shift. At the last minute, he looked down the hallway, and said, ‘I got this.' While his condition deteriorated, he put up another post: "Some people think that to be strong is to never feel pain. In reality, the strongest people are the ones who feels it, understand it, and accept it." His mother said she spoke to him by phone two days later, April 15, before he was placed on a ventilator. "He said, 'Mama, I'm going to be all right. I got the virus at my job.''' Two days later he died.