New Hayward mom dies after contracting H1N1

July 30, 2009 6:57:23 PM PDT
A day after the Center for Disease Control warned pregnant women about the dangers of the H1N1 virus, ABC7 has learned an Alameda County woman died of the swine flu just weeks after giving birth. Now her family is raising questions about whether the hospital was prepared to treat her.

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Nicole Savoy Packnett died at St. Rose Hospital on July 12. It wasn't until today that the coroner confirmed that she actually died of the H1N1 virus. This is also the same hospital where just weeks before she died, she also gave birth to a little baby girl.

"They said don't worry about it, she'll be fine," said husband Willie Packnett.

But she wasn't. She went into the hospital with pneumonia, but it was the H1N1 virus that killed her just a month after she gave birth to baby Khloe.

"They had told me that they were giving my wife CPR," said Packnett. "The primary doctor was standing over her giving her CPR and I needed to get to the hospital at once."

Packnett questions whether the hospital did enough to diagnose and treat the virus early on.

"They say she died of H1N1, but prior to that, like three days after they had admitted her to the hospital, they checked her for H1N1 and said it was negative," he said.

Karen Anderson is the infection control manager at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. She says the virus usually takes one to seven days before the symptoms show. It's likely Nicole Packnett had the swine flu long before anyone knew it.

"The pregnant woman may have been incubating at the time that she gave birth," said Anderson.

Nicole Packnett is not alone. Jaime Norman was Marin County's first swine flu death. She contracted the virus while pregnant and died a week after she delivered her only child, Jack. She held him just once.

The CDC announced Wednesday that 15 pregnant women died of the virus between April and June. The agency now says expectant mothers are particularly susceptible to catching the illness because of their compromised immune systems, and pregnant women will be the first to receive the swine flu vaccine.

It is too late for Packnett who is now left to raise their little girl, Khloe, who will never know her mother.

"They told her just give her a couple of weeks, she's young, she's only 33 years old, she'd be fine," he said.

A spokeswoman for the hospital told ABC7 that she cannot comment on specific cases because of patient privacy reasons. However, she did realease the following statement, saying, "We are confident we have taken and will continue to take all of the precautions in order to protect our patients' staff and the community at large."

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