Keith Smith – York, PA
Died: December 12th, 2021
Keith’s story is told by his wife, Darla Smith. This is her account and experience with UPMC Memorial Hospital of York, PA.
On December 12, 2021, I lost my beloved husband at UPMC Memorial in York, PA. My sons lost the best father imaginable. My husband’s workplace lost a mentor, a friend, a brilliant engineer, and a work horse. The York PA community lost a Rotarian, a philanthropist, a community supporter, and a kind and loving neighbor.
We all LOST, and it sucks mightily. But you know who didn’t lose a dang thing?
They got another cash cow Covid patient, intubated, drugged beyond belief, now lifeless in their cursed ICU. Let the bodies continue to stack up, UPMC, and the cash continue to flow into your coffers.
Yes, I’m furious.
Our entire family caught Covid (likely the Delta variant) in mid-November 2021. For my sons and I, it presented as an extremely annoying flu that obliterated my sense of smell and taste. We all had persistent, low-grade fevers for about 10 days.
My husband, Keith, fared much worse. I don’t know why. He was healthy, not overweight, had no issues with co-morbidity, no diabetes, had never smoked, was a very light drinker (an occasional beer), ate well, and was active.
On November 19th, he awakened after a horrible night and pointed to some blood-colored liquid that he had coughed up. “Get in the car, we are going to the hospital,” was my fateful response. I took him to UPMC Memorial because it is five minutes from our home.
His intake at UPMC caused raised eyebrows for multiple reasons. I dropped him off at the ER and he walked in, told them he had Covid, and they immediately put a pulse-ox on him. By the time I parked and came in, a group of personnel was quizzically re-running his oxygen level, thinking the machine was malfunctioning.
His oxygen was in the 30s. My girlfriends that are in medicine tell me it is utterly insane that he was able to walk, talk, and function with oxygen levels that low.
The nurses also seemed surprised that he didn’t take any medications – just vitamins, fish oil, and eye drops for dry eye. I’m telling you; the man was crazy healthy.
From the moment we entered that facility, the word “intubation” flew from the lips of the staff. Intubate, intubate, intubate.
And my precious husband’s response every time was NO. He made it clear that he didn’t want to be intubated.
Initially, Keith couldn’t get into the ICU as there were no open beds. Finally, the evening of November 20th, they ushered him to the ICU. I tagged along but was quickly banished when they realized that I was on the tail end of my battle with Covid. They wouldn’t let me back in for several days, because of needing to quarantine.
Before I was kicked out of the hospital, we reiterated, yet again, that he did NOT want to be intubated. Then I asked about the possibility of Keith receiving ivermectin as a therapeutic. The nurse practitioner, Jared, hemmed and hawed a bit saying it wasn’t an approved drug, blah blah.
That night was the last time I heard my husband’s voice.
About 12:30 AM on the 21st, Jared the nurse practitioner called me. They had moved Keith in his bed and his oxygen had plummeted into the 30s and he was having difficulty breathing. The red-hot push to intubate commenced. We Facetimed so I could see Keith as he struggled. He was understandably frightened. He reiterated he didn’t want to be intubated but was scared enough that he wanted to discuss it with me.
I didn’t know what to do. UPMC was telling me that intubation was the only option for survival. They hammered us with it. Pounded it into our collective skulls. We finally made the reluctant decision to allow them to put Keith on a ventilator. I had his family Facetime with him so that they could see him and speak with him as well. They were reluctant to have him intubated also, but after UPMCs magical mind tricks, they also acquiesced.
I thought that was the worst night of our family’s life. But wait! There’s more! It can always get worse, folks.
The ICU is a strange wasteland. This was my first exposure to how ICUs operate. For every “treatment” they shoved into him, a resulting problem would arise. Fix one issue, break something else. It’s like sticking your finger into a levee to try and stop a leak. You might stop the flow of water where your finger is, but 10 more leaks will spring elsewhere.
The day after they intubated Keith, I read a story about a man in Illinois who had Covid and was on a ventilator and doing terribly, until his daughter sued the hospital for the right to administer ivermectin to him. He got the ivermectin. He ended up surviving and leaving that ICU.
Upon reading this story, the hair stood up on my neck and I felt like a searing poker had been jammed into my back. It’s like someone (God?) (Satan?) (I honestly do not know at this point) was telling me – CONTACT THAT LAWYER AND GET THIS FOR KEITH.
So, I did.
We filed suit the week of Thanksgiving, getting a court date via Zoom on Monday, November 29th. The judge took his sweet, ever-loving time coming to a decision. He released the order in the late afternoon of Friday, December 3rd.
In the meantime, the court documents were accessed by a local reporter in York, and he wrote a story that, for reasons that I cannot fathom, went nationwide. I was on the phone with my boss and a girlfriend of mine from the Philly area texted me a Yahoo News article with my face on it. I nearly fell out of my chair in shock.
Following receipt of the court order, I had to find an RN that would be willing to administer the ivermectin to Keith. I began a frantic search for that special RN . . . even knocking on neighbor’s doors, calling my church (which is no longer my church) and being told it was inappropriate for me to ask for that help (I mean, why would anyone think to ask for help from the church community – absurd, I say!) and texting or calling every person I could think of with medical connections.
The feelers went out rapidly in full force and we got results. PA State Rep Dawn Keefer connected me with a New Doc. New Doc is a brilliant force of nature with more courage in her wee pinky finger than all the worthless preachers in PA combined.
New Doc quickly introduced me to Pitbull RN. Pitbull RN is a fearless superwoman, and I am in awe of her drive, tenacity, and skill. She agreed to help me give Keith the ivermectin. The clock was ticking, and Keith’s survival was at stake.
Saturday December 4th is a day I will never forget. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details, but the summary is this:
UPMC is run by unscrupulous ghouls who purposefully denied execution of a legal and binding court order because they are terrified of alternate, inexpensive, therapeutic drugs like ivermectin. They were willing to face contempt of court charges. They unethically contacted me directly, multiple times, knowing full well that I had legal representation, and they threatened, bullied, harassed, and intimidated me during a 12-hour standoff in the ICU. They gaslighted me repeatedly, their forked tongues spitting out lies.
Did I mention I signed a waiver that absolved them of any liability involving ivermectin? I did. They had nothing to lose, while Keith and my family had everything to lose.
They called the cops on me. Because I’m this terrifying 51-year-old woman, right? Soooo scary and dangerous, sitting calmly in the room, explaining to UPMC that no, I am not going to leave and yes, you are in contempt of court.
The cops showed up, looked at the court order, said it was a civil matter, not criminal, and left.
The result of that terrible, awful, no-good day was this: Keith was denied the drug he was legally supposed to receive. One more day ticked down on the clock. A day that could have saved him.
The next day, Sunday, December 5th, a group of supporters held a peaceful protest at UPMC. The cops were summoned, yet again, because of the terrifying, middle-aged people calmly exercising their free speech rights. The cops eyeballed the well-behaved group, yawned, and drove off. Fox 43 showed up and interviewed people, shining a spotlight on UPMC’s nasty shenanigans.
We tried to administer the ivermectin again on Sunday and were denied, denied, denied up until the very last second. Then, miraculously, we were able to give Keith the dosage, as a host of ICU personnel watched us through the window. (Upon perusing my husband’s medical notes, I discovered that this heavy surveillance was at the direction of the head of the hospital administration.)
Multiple people reached out through friends of friends, anonymously warning me that UPMC was furious that I had challenged them in court and won. Apparently, questioning UPMC is not allowed. They all told me variations of the same message: Watch your husband like a hawk. They will not let him survive.
After the initial ivermectin dose, Keith outwardly improved. He looked so much better. I was elated – it was working! We got the second dose into him too. Praise God, right? My husband was going to beat Covid, beat UPMC, beat the odds!
Keith endured a three-week struggle in that ICU with that cursed tube shoved into his esophagus. He fought valiantly as UPMC’s inflexible, rigid “protocols” sank his body into utter torture.
We were not able to give the final, third ivermectin dose to Keith. One of the leading ivermectin experts in the world was consulted by New Doc. The harsh drugs that UPMC pumped into Keith’s body had taken a massive toll on his organs. When the consulting expert looked at the tests and bloodwork, he advised against the third dose.
That’s when I knew it was over.
When I went into the ICU on Sunday December 12th and saw Keith’s feet, my heart sank. They looked like the feet of a corpse. His lung had collapsed, he was in renal and liver failure. I looked at the nurse, and said, “Should I call my sons?” His sad gaze locked with mine and he nodded reluctantly.
Our family had conversations with Keith, separately and together as a unit. We said our goodbyes. We Facetimed with my family and Keith’s family. We sobbed as our hearts broke into bits.
What’s so crazy is that I kept my faith until the very bitter end. They extubated Keith and finally got that godforsaken tube OUT OF HIM. He gasped for a bit. I frantically asked one of the nurses to give him oxygen, and she did. I thought, “This is it, God. THIS is when you work your miracle!”
Every day I was in that ICU talking to him nonstop, but I never had the pleasure of hearing his voice again, having him look me in the eyes, squeeze my hand, or see his sweet smile again. From the moment they intubated him, he was in a medically induced coma. They pumped drug upon drug upon drug into him. I told them repeatedly that I wanted him weaned off the sedatives. I wanted him off that ventilator.
My son visited Keith the day before he died and overheard some nurses discussing my husband. Apparently, earlier that day, Keith had opened his eyes and looked around the room. Thanks to Covid, I was limited to 2 visiting hours a day, although some of the Angel Nurses let me stretch it to 4 hours (thank you for that, Angel Nurses.)
If only I had been there when he opened his eyes! I would have screamed and yelled and flailed my arms like a mental patient. Anything to keep him awake and aware.
It was not to be.
The messaging from former and current UPMC employees is eerily consistent. They tell me UPMC does not care about its employees, they regularly understaff and overwork the nurses (and they do all the work, anyway!) that greed is the numero uno driver in that hospital system, and that anyone who questions or challenges UPMC will pay a severe price.
It is exceedingly odd that so many different people have similar stories about UPMC.
So, this is where we are. My family unit is now reduced to 3. I have a Keith-sized hole in my heart that will never, ever go away. Our community has deeply mourned our collective loss.
I have always known how special and amazing my husband is. I didn’t realize that so many hundreds of people across the country know it too.
I had 24.5 years with Keith as my husband, and I am deeply grateful for that time we shared. No marriage is perfect, but ours was darn close.
I don’t know why God takes the good guys and leaves the hellish demons alone, allowing them to continue to traipse the earth and wreak havoc on people. None of it makes sense to me.
I do know that heaven gained a treasure on December 12th of last year. My intelligent, Dad-Joke-Aficionado, gentle, kind, honest, and truthful husband is likely up there running calculations on the mansions and ensuring they’ll hold a snow load of epic proportions. He’s keeping everyone safe, secure, organized, and happy there . . . just like he used to do for the boys and me.
I wish everyone could have had the privilege of knowing him. He made this shiz-tastic, horrible world of ours a better place.